Scroll To Top
News

Two Pulse survivors are now 'ex-gays' running a conversion therapy organization

Pulse LGBTQ nightclub Orlando florida mass shooting memorial wall
Mia2you/Shutterstock

After experiencing firsthand the carnage that anti-LGBTQ+ attacks can cause, Luis Ruiz and Angel Colon are attacking what they've dubbed the "identity pandemic."

Two survivors of the Pulse massacre are now self-proclaimed "ex-gays" who have started a conversion therapy organization.

After experiencing firsthand the carnage that anti-LGBTQ+ attacks can cause, Luis Ruiz and Angel Colon are attacking what they've dubbed the "identity pandemic." Their group, Fearless Identity, works with LGBTQ+ people "seeking the option to change" and the parents of LGBTQ+ children who "hope that change is real."

The two recently told founder and chairman of conservative Christian legal organization Liberty Counsel, Mat Staver, about their journeys in a blog post, receiving praise for how they "left the homosexual lifestyle."

“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," Ruiz said. "Two out of the 49 were my close friends and are no longer with us. They lost their life that night. I should have been number 50 but now I have the chance to live in relationship and not religion — not just loving Christ but being in love with Christ and sharing His love."

The mass shooting at Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016, claimed the lives of 49 people, leaving over 50 others injured. Eight years later, it remains the deadliest attack on LGBTQ+ people in U.S. history.

Related: Pulse shooting remains a grim moment in LGBTQ+ history 8 years later

Staver lauded Ruiz and Colon for their efforts taking on the "LGBTQ mafia" and helping "rescue men like [themselves] from homosexuality." He continuously referred to Fearless Identity and organizations like it as "Christian change counseling," slamming laws enacted across the United States that banthe use of conversion therapy on minors as threats to this so-called "important ministry."

Conversion therapy, also referred to as "reparative therapy," is denounced by the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, World Psychiatric Association, American Medical Association, and every other major medical organization. The World Health Organization concludes that the practice “lacks medical justification and represents a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people," including significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety, self-destructive behavior, suicidal idealization, and suicide attempts.

Beyond the severe negative impacts on LGBTQ+ people, there is also no evidence showing that conversion therapy is even effective. To the contrary, all research on the subject found it is overwhelmingly unsuccessful in changing someone's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Ruiz and Colon have previously claimed not to condone conversion therapy, as Ruiz told NBC in 2019: “We are not all all advocates for conversion therapy or shock therapy. We stand with the gay community, and our main message is about falling in love with Jesus."

The pari's work has been widely condemned by LGBTQ+ groups, which consider Fearless identity a conversion therapy organization. The executive director of QLatinx, Christopher Cuevas, pushed back against Ruiz's claims in a statement at the time, saying that "while we honor 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 centering our LGBTQ+ identity," Cuevas said.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.