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.”
I have nothing but love, respect, and compassion for Luis. He survived a horrific night and lost close friends. Going through such a traumatic event would cause anyone to question their life, faith, and relationships. I deeply respect his experience and journey.
I am also very glad to hear he has come to faith in Christ. Jesus has always met me in my darkest moments, highest highs, and even the mundane! He is a faithful Shepherd and Luis is in good hands
Plus, I respect anyone’s right to believe whatever they want. People should be able to speak up for whatever they want and demonstrate for whatever cause they want. Freedom of speech, assembly, and religion are important parts of what makes living the in the United States great. I hope Luis feels like he has been heard and trust that what he shares comes from what he honestly believes at this moment in his life.
My story, while very different than his, is similar with respect to why I left being an openly gay man and went the “ex-gay” path in 1992. The first time I came out I was not living a healthy life. I partied a lot, abused substances almost every day of the week, and lost way too many friends to AIDS. I was a miserable human being when I wasn’t under the influence of something. I may have been “out” but I was an unhealthy and dysfunctional gay man. Living in Nashville & Dallas in the mid to late 80’s, I was also the victim of violent assault more than once. While I never went through something like the Pulse tragedy, I know what it is like to look down the barrel of a gun pointed at me as I left gay establishments…twice.
Finding Christ through a 12 step program I once belonged too literally changed my life in many profound ways. A strong community of believers helped me become a better person (with regard to life and relational skills). Unfortunately, they also helped me adopt a stigmatized religious view of sexuality and identity with big smiles and arms wide open. Given my unhealthy history as a gay man, it was easy to scapegoat being gay as “sin” instead of taking personal ownership over not having healthy relational and coping skills as a gay man. Fleeing the gay “worldview” helped me run from the trauma that I experienced as a gay man. I numbed the pain with euphoric idealism and believing making progress in other areas of life (i.e. overcoming substance abuse, codependency) was proof of “change.”
20+ years in the ex-gay/conversion ministry world later, I realized that it is possible to live as God created me, as a healthy content and whole gay man. I realize that just because one “comes out” doesn’t mean they come out prepared for a healthy life. That’s why we need life-giving resources to continue to help invest in our communities and LGBT+ individuals; resources that foster a healthy environment for those seeking to live out their authentic selves and not be manipulated by the religious stigma against LGBT+ individuals.
Of course, that’s just my experience and opinion. I don’t know Luis personally but I am sure he has a great head on his shoulders and respect that his experiences/views are different. I wish Luis nothing but goodness, blessings, and peace in his life. I am glad he has the freedom to express his beliefs and demonstrate freely.
You have been heard, Luis. You will always have a listening ear with this Orlandoan neighbor.
You are loved,