Words: Steve Brown
Two survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting have organised a ‘Freedom March’ to encourage people to embrace Jesus and 'overcome' their homosexuality and transgender identity.
Angel Colon, 29, was shot six times and was unable to walk for two months, while Luis Javier Ruiz, 36, was trampled upon while trying to escape during the mass shooting back in 2016 which left 49 people dead.
Two years ago Colon and Ruiz – who both claim they are no longer gay – founded the Fearless Identity Inc, an organisation that aims to teach Biblical messages to ‘those seeking to change’, NBC reported.
Although they both do not identify as gay anymore, they argue that their organisation is not a conversion therapy group.
Colon said: “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.
“We’re trying to share stories through ministry and share the testimonies of people who’ve come out of the homosexual lifestyle.”
Now, the two survivors have arranged a march on September 14 and is set to be a five-minute drive from where the former Pulse nightclub still stands – this is the second Freedom March.
Chrsistopher Cuevas, the executive director of Orlando-based Latino LGBTQ advocacy group QLatinx, said the march is an “attempt to wash the community in a thicket of hate and bigotry.”
Cuevas said: “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.”