Two Pulse Survivors Are Hosting An Anti-LGBTQ+ March Just Five Minutes Away From The Nightclub
On June 12, 2016, an armed man entered Pulse Nightclub and opened fire. Forty-nine people died that night as a result and 53 were injured. The shooting was the most deadly shooting at the time. Now, two survivors are claiming they are no longer gay after finding Christ and are marching in the name of conversion five minutes away from the deadly attack.
Angel Colon and Luis Javier Ruiz survived the Pulse Nightclub massacre and have since claimed they are no longer gay men.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Colon and Ruiz have created an organization to promote the debunked and dangerous theory that homosexuality is something that can be changed. It has been scientifically proven that sexual orientation and gender identity cannot be changed at will. There have recently been high-profile examples of former conversion therapy advocates coming out as gay and rejecting the mentality that it is something that can be “fixed.”
As part of their ministry, Colon and Ruiz are hosting a “Freedom March” on Sept. 14 in Orlando five minutes from the remains of the Pulse Nightclub.
Ruiz and Colon told NBC News that their mission is not to forcibly change anyone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
“We’re trying to equip churches, even if they’re not gay-affirming churches, with the resources they need and teach them not to judge the LGBTQ community,” Colon explained to NBC News. “We’re trying to share our stories through ministry and share the testimonies of people who’ve come out of the homosexual lifestyle.”
The march has been received with mixed reviews with many in the LGBTQ+ community seeing the march as an attack on the community.
There is also a sentiment that the march is an insult to the memories of those who died that night simply for being part of the LGBTQ+ community.
“While we honor the freedom for expressions of faith, and hold the beauty of religiosity in our community, we cannot condone the gross misuse of religious text and faith to exploit LGBTQ+ people or support conversion therapy,” Christopher Cuevas, the executive director of QLatinx, wrote in an email to NBC News. “The expressions of our queer and transgender identities are the embodiment of divinity and grace, because we are living our most radical truth by celebrating and centering our LGBTQ+ identity.”
Ruiz has suggested that people can choose their sexuality and their path.
However, what Ruiz fails to understand is that scientific studies are proving more and more that is it the genetic makeup and brain chemistry that dictate a person’s sexual orientation. Studies have proved that people have not better of a chance to change their sexual orientation than they do their hair or eye color.
LGBTQ+-friendly religious organizations have reached out to Orlando asking for help stopping the march.
“The Freedom March describes their movement as ‘former homosexuals and transgenders sharing our testimonies and celebrating our freedom.’ At Q Christian Fellowship, our members have far too much experience with the damage that can be done by organizations promoting ‘ex-gay’ ideologies and conversion therapies premised on the false and dangerous claim that people must be ‘delivered from LGBTQ+ lifestyles,'” reads the open letter. “You should be aware that The Freedom March possesses significant organizational overlap with anti-LGBTQ+ groups such as Equipped to Love, the Changed Movement, and Moral Revolution, which describes itself as ‘a company of radicals helping to define a healthy sexuality’ in a ‘generation overwhelmed by conflicting messages about love, lust, and relationships.'”
But, some LGBTQ+ community members are spreading the message of love being the most powerful weapon against this anti-LGBTQ+ movement.
Love is one of the most powerful tools in anyone’s arsenal. In the face of a march trying to tell young LGBTQ+ people that they can change, it is important that people raise their voices in love and support. Being LGBTQ+ is okay and natural.