Over one hundred people attended an ex-gay rally organized by two Pulse shooting survivors in Orlando, Florida.
The crowd gathered at Lake Eola Park – located about a mile and a half from the Pulse nightclub – to proclaim that they “have chosen identity in Christ above that of LGBTQ+.” Many wore shirts that said “changed.”
The Orlando Sentinel reports that the event was religious, with a Christian band and speakers delivering religious messages and some who said that they overcame the LGBTQ “lifestyle” and were in heterosexual relationships.
The rally was organized by Angel Colon, 29, and Luis Javier Ruiz, 36, two survivors of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting that left 49 people dead. They teamed up with local anti-LGBTQ group Florida Family Policy Council to host the event.
“I want to make a public declaration: this is not conversion therapy, this is not electrotherapy, this is not shock therapy,” said Ruiz. “This is all the Holy Spirit, this is the man that died on the cross.”
“This man never cheated on me, never slept with my best friend. He’s the man on the cross.”
He told parents should pray for their gay children “not to come back to them, but for us to come back to Jesus.”
Both Colon and Ruiz have talked previously about the traumatic experience of surviving a mass shooting in an LGBTQ nightclub and how it led to them no longer identifying as gay.
“In that moment, something clicked in my head and I felt the spiritual warfare going on on top of me,” Colon said in a radio interview. “I could feel something heavy and I said, ‘You know what? No!’”
Orange County, where Orlando is located, is currently considering a ban on conversion therapy.