Luis Javier Ruiz (pictured) and Angel Colon founded ‘Fearless Identity’, an organisation aiming to bring “hope” and “biblical understanding” to LGBT+ people (Facebook)
Two survivors of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub say they no longer identify as gay and have founded an organisation to help other ‘ex-gays’.
Angel Colon and Luis Javier Ruiz were injured at the LGBT+ nightclub on June 12, 2016, in what was one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history.
A total of 49 people were killed and 53 people were injured. Colon, 29, was shot six times and Ruiz, 36, was trampled.
The two men say the massacre inspired them to renounce their homosexuality and return to religion.
“My life was all over the place, and I never blamed it on being gay. I was a drug addict, an alcoholic,” Colon told NBC News.
“I missed worshiping God, so when Pulse happened, I took the situation as a big turning point in my life.”
Ruiz and Colon founded Fearless Identity Inc., an organisation that seeks to “bring hope” and “biblical understanding to those seeking to change”.
They are now planning a ‘Freedom March’ to encourage people to overcome their LGBT+ identity.
The rally is scheduled for September 14, just a five-minute drive from the former nightclub, and “seeks to bring hope of deliverance to the LGBTQ community and point them toward Christ”.
“We’re trying to share our stories through ministry and share the testimonies of people who’ve come out of the homosexual lifestyle,” Colon explained.
“People have the option to change, to choose their own path and their own journey,” Ruiz added.
The pair said that they’re trying to teach churches not to judge the LGBT+ community, but their efforts have been condemned by a city still in mourning.
The march was dubbed “an attempt to wash the community in a thicket of hate and bigotry” by Christopher Cuevas of QLatinx, an Orlando-based Latino LGBTQ advocacy group.
In an email to NBC News, he wrote: “While we honour 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 centring our LGBTQ+ identity.”