Culture

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.

Credit: @fearlessidentity / Instagram

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.

Credit: @BillyCorben / Twitter

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.

Credit: @jota_sexteam / Twitter

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.

Credit: @qchristianorg / Twitter

“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.

Credit: @emilyjoypoetry / Twitter

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.

READ: He Survived The Shooting In Orlando And He Is Now Telling His Story

Here’s What My White Husband Has Learned About The Latino Culture One Day At A Time

relationships

Here’s What My White Husband Has Learned About The Latino Culture One Day At A Time

My husband and I have been married for a little over three years now and he is still learning so much about myself and what it means to be Latino. I’m not talking about me having a big Cuban family all stationed in Miami (3-0-5 🙌🏽) or the fact that the best jokes in Netflix’s “One Day At A Time” are in Spanish. I’m talking about the little things that to me have always been a normal part of life. This is what has continuously caught him off guard…

If you ask him, I’m already turning into my abuela because of the things he is finding out, which to me is a compliment. Here are just a few of the things that he is starting to understand about our future together.

1. Seasoning your beans is hard AF but abuela makes it look easy.

CREDIT: gifnik.com

No matter how many times I try or how many techniques I use, my bean always turn out bland AF. This wouldn’t have been a problem if he didn’t have my abuela’s frijoles negro because now he has a reference point as to what beans are supposed to taste like. Though, he doesn’t cook so my bland beans will have to do.

2. That whole personal space thing is a white construct.

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I missed my hot mess buddy!

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One of the first things he realized about being married to a Latino is that all that personal space he once had is gone. I even go into the bathroom to talk to him when he’s in the shower because that’s 👏🏾 how 👏🏾 I 👏🏾 was 👏🏾 raised. 👏🏾

3. Family obligations cannot and will not be avoided.

Even if it means that you have to spend $800 to travel 3,000 miles back home for a weekend for your nephew’s first birthday, there is no getting out of family events. #BasedOnTrueEvents

4. My family raised me to be super eco-friendly (and very frugal).

The first time my husband saw me washing a Ziploc bag he asked if we had run out and that he could get some from the store. My response: “But, like, why do you want to waste money like that?”

5. Selena was and will always be La Reina.

CREDIT: anything-for-selenaaas / Tumblr

I know. I know. How did he not know this before is what you’re thinking, right? But you can’t hold it against him. I don’t think Selena had a very big following in West Virginia. There was no way he could have known that she is more relevant now than ever. Not to mention that she still wins Latin Billboard awards and I play her music nonstop.

6. My abuela’s obsession with reusing containers has been passed down.

After he came down from the initial shock of thinking that I left the sour cream in the Tupperware cabinet overnight, he made a joke about me becoming my abuela. I’ve never been so proud.

7. Calling a loved one “gordo” is not offensive.

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@f_uanteik #migordo #iloveyou #happiness #happynights

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Because, you know, someone calling you “my little fatty” is not okay. Imagine his shock when he heard a family member call me “gordito” in front of him. He was shook.

8. Every chore I do is just an excuse to put on Celia Cruz and dance.

CREDIT: mitú

Sure, I can cook in silence but nothing makes my time in the kitchen more enjoyable than some “La Negra Tiene Tumbao” or “La Vida Es Un Carnaval” blaring in the background. Plus, he is starting to learn some of her greatest hits.

9. Seventy-five percent of Latino cooking is just making that sabor.

To quote my husband: “Oh. So ropa vieja is like making pot roast then you make the flavor (sofrito). Yeah. White people are too lazy to make all that flavor.”

10. Being extra and loud is just in our blood.

I still have that trophy on our desk in the living room and he has mentioned moving it a couple times. Then I stubbed my toe, fall to the floor in tears, and he remembers why it is so prominently displayed.

11. Hot Cheetos are life.

He didn’t know they were so versatile but he’s not upset that we get to eat them all the time.

READ: 14 Things That Happen When A Gringo Marries Into A Latino Family

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Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

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Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

Ben Wassenhatch / Flickr

Seven Republican lawmakers in Florida filed four anti-LGBTQ bills hours before the deadline for the upcoming legislative session this week. The bills undo many of the protections that exist for LGBTQ Florida residents. The four bills would repeal county and municipal ordinances for LGBTQ workers, legalize gay conversion therapy, and ban transgender healthcare for children, according to NBC News. 

The homophobic and transphobic legislation was introduced by representatives Anthony Sabatini, Bob Rommel, Michael Grant, and Byron Donalds, along with Senators Joe Gruters and Keith Perry. Florida Rep. Shevrin Jones, who is a member of the LGBTQ community, and other advocates are now fighting against the bills’ passing. 

Advocates respond to the bill calling it “discrimination and hate.”

“Clearly they’ve decided that discrimination and hate are central to their election-year platform despite our state’s incredible diversity,” Jones said in a statement. “Just as I’ve done since I was elected in 2012, I will continue to fight any legislation that marginalizes or threatens any Floridian’s shot at a secure, safe, and bright quality of life.”

Jones also accused Florida Republicans of, “wasting tax dollars attacking Florida’s most vulnerable communities rather than prioritizing the issues that impact everyday people’s lives.” 

Equality Florida released a statement highlighting many of the consequences such a bill would have. 

“This is the most overtly anti-LGBTQ agenda from the Florida Legislature in recent memory,” Jon Harris Maurer, the group’s public policy director, said. “It runs the gamut from openly hostile legislation that would arrest and imprison doctors for providing medically necessary care, to legislation that would carelessly erase critical local LGBTQ protections.”

Senator Gruters defends the bill, claiming it “includes protections.”

“The bill certainly does not authorize an employer to discriminate against employees who are members of protected classes, whether protected by federal or state law or local ordinance,” Gruters told NBC News via email.  “While I do not believe the bill has any impact on local anti-discrimination ordinances, in an abundance of caution, I included language in the bill’s preamble to make clear that the preemption would not affect local anti-discrimination laws, and any court would interpret the preemption consistent with that preamble.” 

While Gruters claims it would include protections, Joe Saunders, senior political director at Equality Florida, claims that these so-called protections are merely a part of the bill’s preamble and would carry no weight should the bills become law. 

“We appreciate that Sen. Gruters put that in,” Saunders said. “It’s not policy; it’s not considered part of the bill.”

Democratic senator Lori Berman suggested the bill was nothing more than a political stunt to garner votes from homophobic and transphobic constituents. 

“I’m disappointed to see some of my colleagues proposing this regressive and discriminatory anti-LGBT agenda,” Berman wrote on Twitter. “What benefit to the public does this legislation actually serve, apart from tossing red meat to a political base in an election season?” 

Trans children are particularly vulnerable to the policies. 

“Transgender youth are some of the most at risk in our community,” Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s director of transgender equality, told NBC News. “It is outrageous that conservative legislators would threaten their health and safety. Medical professionals, not politicians, should decide what medical care is in the best interest of a patient. Forcing a doctor to deny best practice medical care and deny support to transgender youth can be life-threatening.”

Making it illegal for doctors to provide necessary care to trans children certainly goes against the Hippocratic oath, but if you think something so dystopian can’t happen just look at how Republicans have slowly chipped away at abortion rights – another form of necessary care that can be life-saving. 

Just yesterday South Dakora Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that would also ban doctors from performing gender-affirming surgeries or treatments on children. Similar bills have been filed in Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky. 

According to the Associated Press, “The Endocrine Society, which is the leading professional organization for doctors who specialize in hormones, does not recommend gender-transition medical treatment before puberty for children who do not identify with their biological gender. For youths experiencing puberty and older adolescents, the Endocrine Society recommends that a team composed of expert medical professionals and mental health professionals manages treatment.”

Opponents of these anti-trans bills believe the laws interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and contradict the widely accepted practices of the medical community. 

“Sadly, the medical care of transgender youth has been sensationalized and politicized,” Jack Turban, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, told NBC News. “Gender-affirming medical care for transgender adolescents is endorsed by major medical organizations, including the Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. It should go without saying, but providing standard medical care should not be a felony.”