A survivor of the June 2016 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that left 49 people dead now says he has found Christ and is no longer gay.
“I should have been number 50!,” Luis Javier Ruiz said in a message posted to Facebook. “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! The enemy had its grip, and now God has taken me from that moment and has given me Christ.”
Ruiz shared this revelation just ahead of the Freedom March, to be held May 5 in Washington. The event bills itself as a “celebration of freedom from homosexuality and transgenderism. The event's organizers have partnered with Voice of the Voiceless, a religious group whose mission is “to defend the rights of former homosexuals, individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction, and their families,” according to its website.
Christopher Doyle, co-founder of Voice of the Voiceless, told NBC News this weekend's 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," Doyle wrote in an email.
Ruiz, who was featured in a social media post for the Freedom March above the words “Homosexuals Can Change!,” is expected to attend Saturday's event along with others “celebrating freedom from homosexual/transgender lifestyles,” according to the Freedom March’s Facebook page.
Ruiz did not respond to NBC News' request for comment.
The controversial practice of trying to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is often referred to as “conversion therapy.” A long list of health organizations have spoken out against the medically debunked practice, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Psychologists, the American Psychoanalytic Association and the American Counseling Association.
There is currently a nationwide effort to ban gay conversion therapy for minors. In 2012, California become the first state to do so, and now a total of 10 states and Washington, D.C., have outlawed the practice for minors, according to the LGBTQ think tank Movement Advancement Project.
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