Two Pulse shooting survivors who say that they’re no longer gay are planning an ex-gay march near the site of the shooting.
On June 12, 2016, a gunman entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and opened fire. He killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in the gay club before police shot him.
It was the deadliest mass shooting in America at the time.
One of the survivors, Luis Javier Ruiz, announced that he was no longer gay after the shooting and became a darling of the local anti-LGBTQ movement.
“I survived because I believe God still has a purpose for me,” he told a Florida Catholic publication.
Now Angel Colon, a trainer who made headlines when he was able to dance again after being shot three times in the leg, is saying that he’s not gay anymore either.
Speaking on a Christian conservative podcast with Julie Roys, Ruiz and Colon said that the shooting helped them find God.
Colon said that after he was shot at the Pulse nightclub and his leg was broken as he was trampled by people fleeing, he thought he was going to die.
“In that moment, something clicked in my head and I felt the spiritual warfare going on on top of me,” he told Roys. “I could feel something heavy and I said, ‘You know what? No!’”
“And I changed my prayer. And I started to prophesy upon my life. I started to say, ‘Lord, you promised that I had a purpose in life. You promised me that something big was happening with me… None of that has happened, so that means I need to leave here alive. And I’m going to leave here alive.”
But they’re not exactly claiming that they’re straight. Ruiz said that he was having trouble telling himself he was straight considering he was still attracted to men, until he had an “epiphany.”
“It’s not a gay to straight thing,” he said. “It’s a lost to saved thing.”
Colon and Ruiz set up Fearless Identity, an ex-gay ministry. Ruiz was one of the few people who attended the ex-gay Freedom March in D.C. last year, and now they’re going to do one ten minutes from the site of the Pulse shooting.
“The person I became after I started testifying to the world, after I shared to the world that He is my God, that change is possible, that I left the homosexual lifestyle,” Colon said. “We became these men, these soldiers, these generals that aren’t scared anymore to share wherever they go the gospel of God.”
The march is planned for September 14.
The ultimate goal of violence, hatred, and discrimination against LGBTQ people is to convince them that pretending to be straight and cis has better outcomes than living one’s life authentically.
Surviving a mass shooting that killed 49 people is something that will affect a person for the rest of their life. And since that shooting happened in a gay club, it’s understandable that survivors would link that trauma with their identity.
What’s less understandable is how the right is effectively celebrating the Pulse shooting because these two survivors say they’re not gay anymore.