Global Pride

By Laura Latzko, May 21, 2015.

To kick off LGBT Pride Month in June, a free online summit aims get participants from around the world thinking about what it means to love and accept themselves.

Photos courtesy of

Developed by Mark Anthony Lord, (pictured) an author, inspirational leader and spiritual counselor, the first annual Global Pride Summit is set for June 1-5 and, according to the event’s Facebook page, the objective is to “uplift, connect, inspire, and celebrate the LGBTQ world.”

To participate in the five-day, all-ages summit, LGBT-identified individuals and allies are asked to fill out a registration form on the Global Pride Summit website (

“The purpose of the summit is to bring to LGBT people tools, stories and inspiration for them to look within themselves and to heal any internalized homophobia, any shame or any low self-esteem,” Lord said. “Growing up in a homophobic world is not easy. It causes scars to our thinking, to our hearts and to our ability to know ourselves.”

The event’s itinerary has been set up so that each day has a specific focus. June 1 will be centered around passion; June 2, responsibility; June 3, intimacy; June 4, daring and courage and June 5, empowerment.

The topics and focuses have been selected to nurture and facilitate personal growth, according to Lord, so that attendees can in turn give back to others and their communities.

“When people feel good about themselves, when people heal inside themselves, they become less selfish. They become less narcissistic. They become more interested in helping other people heal their own pain,” Lord said.

Lord will open the conference with a welcoming video. The, every morning will begin with video interviews with celebrities and spiritual and organizational leaders, sharing their experiences coming out, their journeys to self-acceptance or their experiences as allies to the LGBT community.

For the morning videos, Lord interviewed such celebrities as Olympic diver Greg Louganis, transgender writer and advocate Chaz Bono, transgender actress Alexandra Billings, Youtube sensations Bria and Chrissy and actor John Newton.

According to Lord, the wide variety of people from the LGBT and allied communities were selected to promote awareness and understanding between different groups.

In the evenings, Lord and special guests will lead webinars centered around Q&As on specific topics or guided experiences.

Although he didn’t do an interview himself, Lord’s own personal experiences as a child have impacted him and influenced his decision to create the summit. Had he done a video, he would have detailed his upbringing in a religious, blue-collar neighborhood in the Detroit suburbs. As musical theater major, he was out of the closet by college, but his upbringing shaped his view of self and caused him to experience shame and homophobia.

“A lot of us, we can come out as adults or come out in high school or college, but the deep wounds that live inside of us were formed … when were kids,” Lord said.

It took Lord a number of years to accept himself and to view being a gay man as positive attribute. Lord worked as a dancer and choreographer before becoming a spiritual leader and founding the Bodhi Spiritual Center in Chicago.

A number of spiritual leaders and authors are participating in the conference as interviewees and webinar guests. Their inclusion, Lord said, was important because many LGBT individuals experience internalized homophobia and fear to be themselves because of religion.

In one of the videos, Hudson Taylor will talk about his work with Athlete Ally, an organization he founded to combat homophobia in competitive professional, collegiate and youth sports.

Deputy Executive Director Jama Shelton will speak on the True Colors Fund, an organization started by singer Cyndi Lauper to help homeless LGBT youth.

Phoenix-based author, speaker, psychic medium, angel communicator and LGBT ally Sunny Dawn Johnston will lead guests through guided meditations to channel their vulnerability.

Johnston, who has worked with all different types of clients, including members of the LGBT community for the past 16 years, said she can identify with LGBT people because growing up in Utah as a “closet medium,” overweight child and a non-Mormon, she often didn’t feel like she fit in or was accepted.

Getting in touch with your vulnerable side, Johnston said, can help LGBT people to have stronger senses of self and form better relationships with others.

“I think that everyone innately wants to feel that love connection, yet if we have our walls up all the time, we don’t feel it,” Johnston said. “Many people who have been able to feel that connection, that love, that intimacy, they desire more of it. They oftentimes don’t allow themselves to have it because of the fear.”

For a complete list of speakers, and to register, visit Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #globalpride.

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