Two survivors of the Pulse nightclub terror attack, who have “embraced Jesus” and no longer identify as gay, have organised a “Freedom March” for others to overcome their LGBT identity.
Angel Colon, 29, and Luis Javier Ruiz, 36, created Fearless Identity Inc, after surviving the terror attack at the gay nightclub Pulse, in Orlando in 2016. Ruiz was trampled by crowds trying to exit the nightclub, and Colon was shot 6 times. The attack inspired them to give up their gay identity, and identify now as “Children of God” rather than being straight or gay.
“My life was all over the place, and I never blamed it on being gay. I was a drug addict, an alcoholic,” Colon said. “I missed worshiping God, so when Pulse happened, I took the situation as a big turning point in my life,” he continued.
Fearless Identity Inc was created to “bring hope” and “biblical understanding to those seeking change,” Ruiz told NBC News. The organisation is not to force gay people to turn straight, or stop trans people from identifying as a different gender, but to “bring hope of deliverance to the LGBTQ community and point them toward Christ”, Ruiz explained:
We are not all all advocates for conversion therapy or shock therapy… We stand with the gay community, and our main message is about falling in love with Jesus, but if an LGBTQ person wanted to talk to a pastor or counselor, that’s a whole different story.
The Freedom march is scheduled for September 14th at Lake Eloa Park in Orlando, a mere five minute drive from the spot where Pulse used to stand. This will be the second march the pair have organised – the inaugural event took place last year in Washington.
Some local LGBT individuals are furious that the pair have dared to put the event on. Christopher Cuevas, the executive director of QLatinx, an LGBT Latino group based in Orlando, said that the march was an “attempt to wash the community in a thicket of hate and bigotry”:
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. 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.