WASHINGTON (BP) — Two survivors of a 2016 gay nightclub massacre who say they are no longer gay will celebrate in an ex-LGBT event May 5 in Washington, event organizers said.
Luis Javier Ruiz and Angel Colon will participate in Freedom March, a worship service and public march including men and women who claim Jesus as their deliverer from homosexual and transgendered lifestyles.
Many ex-LGBT Christians plan to worship and testify from noon-3 p.m. at the Sylvan Theater, afterwards marching through the streets of D.C., according to the Freedom March Facebook page.
Both men, who say they accepted Christ as youth before straying into homosexuality, proclaim their new lifestyles on Facebook, Ruiz in written posts and Colon in a Facebook live interview.
“Going through old pictures of the night of Pulse, I remember my struggles of perversion, heavy drinking to drown out everything and having promiscuous sex that led to HIV. My struggles were real!” Ruiz said. “The enemy had its grip, and now God has taken me from that moment and has given me Christ Jesus. I’ve grown to know His love in a deeper level.
“I know who I am and I am not defined with who the enemy says I use to be,” Ruiz wrote, “but who Christ Jesus says I am.”
On June 12, 2016, Colon and Ruiz were among 53 wounded and 49 murdered in the Pulse nightclub by lone gunman Omar Mateen. Having pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), Mateen walked into the club around 2 a.m. and began firing an AR-15 assault rifle. Police killed him three hours later as he held about 30 hostages inside the club.
Colon, in his Facebook interview, said he prayed for forgiveness as Mateen was standing behind him preparing to shoot.
“[Mateen] didn’t shoot me quick, he gave me a few minutes, and at the moment I started to do a prayer, and I started asking God for forgiveness, I started asking God please forgive me for everything I did, please. I’m sorry,” Colon said in the interview conducted by Jeffrey Mccall, founder of For Such a Time Ministry. Suddenly, Colon changed his prayer. “God, You promised me that I have a calling. You promised me that I have a purpose. You’re getting me out of here alive.”
Struggling to walk again in an Orlando hospital, Colon said he also struggled through Satan’s attempts to keep him in sin.
“It was still a battle at that moment, because now the enemy is putting everything in your head,” he said. “The enemy was way harder (after) I decided to change my life. It’s a big process.
“People always ask that question, ‘Well, are you straight now, because you go to church, because you’re so close to God,'” Colon told Mccall. “[What] I tell them is I’m not gay, I’m not straight, I’m a son of God. And the only lifestyle I promote is faith, nothing else.”
The event is cosponsored by Voice of the Voiceless, which promotes itself as a ministry to ex-LGBT community members.
Voice of the Voiceless cofounder Christopher Doyle, in a May 1 story at NBC News, said the event is “about celebrating our lives and not hating the LGBTQ movement…. We made a conscious choice to leave homosexuality, and we should be able to do that without being mocked.”
The Southern Baptist Convention has often affirmed God’s ability to deliver homosexuals from sin, and has encouraged churches to minister to the LGBT population.
In a resolution at the 2009 SBC Annual Meeting in Louisville, Ky., messengers affirmed the SBC Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals, which encouraged churches to engage in loving, redemptive ministry to homosexuals.
The resolution also proclaimed “that those who practice any unbiblical sexual behavior can be forgiven and changed, as the Apostle Paul wrote, ‘… some of you were like this, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God’ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).”