Pulse Survivor To Appear At Event Touting ‘Freedom From Homosexual Lifestyles‘

A group of conservative Christian marchers will take to Washington, D.C., Saturday  their “freedom from homosexual [and] transgender lifestyles” ― and  of the  will be among them.

Luis Javier Ruiz, 34, wrote of his “struggles of perversion” in a Facebook post April 27, and seemed to imply that he no longer identified as gay. 

Referring to the  at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Ruiz wrote that he “should [have] been number 50.”

“I know who I am and I am not defined with who the enemy says I [used] to be,” he added.

Ruiz had expressed similar, albeit less explicitly worded, sentiments in . 

“My life really did change after Pulse. I am a different person now,” he said at the time, adding: “My life has changed, but [I] do hate the fact that it took this tragedy to change my life.”

Ruiz concluded his post with a number of hashtags promoting the “,” which will take place in Washington on May 5. The event’s organizer is Voice for the Voiceless, a dedicated to defending “the rights of former homosexuals, individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction, and their families.”

Ruiz will attend the event, . 

Ruiz did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his role in the march, and by Wednesday afternoon appeared to have deleted the post or placed it on a private setting. However, the march’s organizers have shared a photo of Ruiz on their social media accounts, along with his April 27 status as it originally appeared, copied in full. 

Although Ruiz didn’t specify whether he has undergone so-called conversion therapy, his post came on the same day that Hawaiian lawmakers voted  that would outlaw the “ex-gay” therapy for minors. Hawaii Gov. David Ige  to sign the bill into law, which would make the state  to prohibit such practices. 

Multiple medical and mental health organizations, including the  and , have discredited the belief that a person can change their sexuality through conversion therapy, religion or other means. Still, the practice continues to  in conservative religious communities. 

Voice for the Voiceless did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the event or Ruiz’s appearance. However, the organization’s president, Daren Mehl,  the event was “an opportunity … to testify publicly of the life-changing grace available to leave the LGBT identity for something greater.” 

“I decided the gay label and lifestyle didn’t align to my desired identity as a Christian,” Mehl said. “Trying to align my choices in behavior to my Christian identity took years of struggling, and sometimes it was quite painful.” 

This story has been updated to reflect that Ruiz appeared to have taken down the original post.