Pulse survivor says he is no longer gay, has found Christ

A survivor of the June 2016 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, which left 49 victims 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, which will be held on May 5 in Washington, D.C. The event bills itself as a "celebration of freedom from homosexuality and transgenderism" and is organized by 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.

Portraits of Pulse shooting survivors, families and friends

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Dear Orlando: Portraits of Pulse shooting survivors, families and friends
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Dear Orlando: Portraits of Pulse shooting survivors, families and friends

Omar Delgado, police officer

I would see the caller ID, the picture. I was like, "I know this person's never going to be able to pick up this phone again." 

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Dimarie Rodriguez, mother of victim Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez

I would text him "Night, Night." And he would always text back, "Night, night, I love you."

But that night, there was no "Night, Night," because I knew he was at the club. I had sent mine. And he sent me "I love you." But he didn’t send his "Night, Night" because he was out.

I saw in my mind, I saw him lying face down. I said "Wow, I understand where he is, he is lying face down." Because in my mind I saw it.

[T]hey told me, "We found that he was not alive, because we found his ID. We found him face down."

He took a piece of me.

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Mina Justice, mother of victim Eddie Justice

I feel stupid, I really do, because I said, "Get off the phone so he won't hear you. Text me."

So he got off the phone.

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Kate Maini, bartender and survivor

I remember carrying Stanley (Almodovar) to the pickup truck where they were shuttling people to the hospital. He's a regular of mine. He came in every Saturday. Drank gin and tonic every week.

I said, "Keep your eyes open, keep your eyes open, keep your eyes open."

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

John Mina, Chief of Orlando Police Department

We tried to negotiate with him. He wasn't answering our phone calls anymore. 

That's when we started getting information from inside that he's got these bomb vests on. He's got these explosives. Two different canine teams had made a positive indication on his car, which was right outside, for the presence of explosives. 

The officers were feet away from probably the worst mass-murderer in U.S. history. Some are inside the club, some are right outside the club, and they hear over the radio that there's explosives and someone comes on and says, "Hey, you guys might want to think about backing off." 

And the officers just look at each other and they just stay there. 

They did not flinch, did not move. 

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Emily Addison and her children

The text messages said, "Emily, they shooting at folks. I'm scared." The next one said, "In bathroom. People are shot." The next one, "I'm scared." The next one , "Please call the police." The last one said, "If I die, please call my mom."

Read their full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Rob Domenico, board member of The Center in Orlando

I took the phone. "Ma'am, I apologize, but at this time we have not heard from your son. But if we do, we will take down your number and call you back immediately"

Of course, we never did.

And that haunts me.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Magda Soto, mother of victim Luis Conde

It really hadn't been easy after so many years apart and to spend all that time together was great. I know I will see him again.

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Ray Rivera, DJ and survivor

You can probably tell by the bags under my eyes, I have a hard time sleeping. Honestly, it's been a rough year. I go to counseling. I think it's more the fact that I don't take anything for granted anymore. Sometimes my son will want to do something or my wife will want to do something. I'm just so tired. Now I make the time to actually say, "Okay. You know what? Let's go ahead and go."

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Mayra and Brian, mother and brother of victim Amanda Alvear

And then the last time I heard from her she was when she was the karaoke host at a gay bar. She sent me a screenshot of her doing a frowny face because she was like "I tried to call you because I'm doing Karaoke but you're busy. "

She wrote “I love you.” 

I wrote “I love you.” 

The next day she passed. 

Read their full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Alison Clarke, first responder

I actually worked at Pulse when it first opened. A handful of times, I worked as the off-duty officer. I've been there as a patron. I know how involved Pulse is within our gay community. I know how significant it is for our gay community. To stop short, look up, and see that Pulse logo, it was surreal for me because I'm like, "This is our club. This is our community. There's somebody in there that's targeting our community."

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Angel Colon, survivor

I felt like the hospital was my refuge. I felt like I was safe after being there for three weeks. 

I had panic attacks thinking, “Is living out in the world going to be the same? Am I safe in the world again?"

"How is it possible to forgive? How is it possible to move forward from something like this?"

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Effrain Colon Ortiz, survivor

The last time he saw him was outside the bar that night. He came early, he hugged and kissed him. He said, "I'm very happy as I met someone, he's somebody." He went inside and that was it. 

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Javier Nada, survivor

My nieces sent a desperate message: "Please answer. Please tell me what happened." 

They knew it was true because it was all over the TV in Mexico. But they don't know what happened until the Mexican consul opened phone line for all the families. The consul told me "Don't worry. We're going to bring your family. Who do you want?" I told my mom, my son, and they told me "Don't worry. We're going to bring them." 

And they did it very fast. Four days later. 

Almost 11 years I hadn't seen my mom.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Melissa Delgado, survivor and friend of victim Stanley Almodovar

As time passes, you realize, "Damn, this did happen. It happened to you, he's no longer here."

When you see several people get murdered, when you're held hostage, when you get hit with bombs and shit falling all over you then you're in a hospital, it's a whole lot that people will never understand. I don't expect them to but I become more angry when people ask questions like,

"How does it feel a year later or how is your recovery?"

What recovery?

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Sam Maldonado, survivor, speaking about victim Gilbert Ramon Silva Menendez

The next day when they were giving the names, his came up. I was devastated. I did not know how to call his mom because he was the only son. I did not how to call her or say, "Listen, I was there." 

I did talk to her at the funeral. I apologized. 

She said, "Don't worry. There's always a reason. It was not your time." 

She hugged me and then she said, “He was so cute.”

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Barbara Poma, owner of Pulse

When you grow up and you face one tragedy, trial, tribulation after another, it changes you. I don't think it changes how you're hardwired, but it certainly makes your coping mechanisms different. I've always looked at life, I don't want to say necessarily black and white, but I do look at it as a sink or swim, and I'm a swimmer.

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Isabella Poma, daughter of Pulse owner Barbara Poma

We would always play hide and seek because there's three different rooms, and I remember one time we went up to the balcony and we played up there. 

I went inside Pulse after it happened with my mom, she was telling me how somebody that I knew was hiding up there, and it hit me. 

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Luis Roldan, survivor and former partner of victim Eddie Justice

I wake up. I'm not even crying. I'm smiling. 

Like I feel my lips at times, and at that time it felt so real, and I've never felt that before. 

I called his mom and she’s said, “I'm the only one who hasn't had a dream of him”. 

She thinks that it's because maybe he doesn't want to hurt her more than she's already hurting or something. Maybe she's not ready to see him in a dream.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Ramses Tinoco, survivor

That night at Pulse, he was missing. We were celebrating our birthdays together. I didn't know where he was. When I got outside I ran like crazy and I forgot I was with Chris. I went back. I didn't care. I went back and I found him in the middle of the road, screaming. 

We hugged each other like we never hugged before.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Josean Garcia, survivor and friend of victims Amanda Alvear and Mercedes Flores

That runs through my mind all year long, on and off. And luckily, I mean, I haven't had any bad dreams, after the first month. The first month was the worst. I was in a relationship at the time, and I remember the next morning I would hear the story, do you remember last night?

And I'd say no, what? 

You woke up screaming.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Jaimee Hahn, ER nurse

I said, "20? You mean somebody was shot 20 times?" 

They said, "No. 20 patients." 

I was still just trying to process that. About five seconds later that the first one came in the door and the next one came in the door and they just never stopped. Just didn't stop and it was devastating injuries.

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Chris Hansen, survivor

The first three shots: I thought it was music.

I felt the bass in my body on the floor against that wall. I felt it. I saw it.

I thought it was the music.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Leo Melendez, survivor and co-worker of victim, Javier Jorge Reyes

I was in a coma for three weeks. 

On July 3rd, I woke up. The first person I saw was my mother. She was right there next to me because my mother never left my side. I remember seeing her and she started crying. 

"Where's Javier?" 

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Valeria Monroig, sister of victim Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez

That weekend before my brother died, we were in a fight because I told my mom I hated her. 

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Robert Pressley, son of victim Brenda Lee Marquez McCool

That night she was joking with us and she said, “I’m going to change my clothes. I’ve got a bad feeling something might happen.” Me and my brother went out so she said, “I love you guys so much.” 

My mom never says it like that so I thought it was weird. 

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Angel Santiago, survivor

Throughout my life, especially when I was younger, I had nightmares where someone’s chasing me and I’m running and hiding. I find somewhere to hide, a closet, and sure enough I’m found.

That night was just like that but this time it was real. 

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Rodney Sumter, bartender and survivor

It was 2:00 a.m. I was closing out my checks and about to collect my tips. I was talking to my friend and I remember it sounding like a broken speaker. It was crazy how loud everything was.

Once we realized it was gunshots, we hit the floor and just prayed that it would stop.

It kept going.

After a while, you realize they were going after any and everybody.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Orlando Torres, survivor

I went to the bathroom. Within minutes, I started hearing all those gunshots. 

I said hello, but I didn't get a chance to say goodbye. 

That's what gets me.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

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Ruiz, who was featured in a social media post for the Freedom March above the words "Homosexuals Can Change!," is expected to attend this weekend's event along with others "celebrating freedom from homosexual/transgender lifestyles," according to the Freedom March's Facebook page.

Neither Ruiz nor a representative from Voice of the Voiceless immediately responded 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 LGBTQ think tank Movement Advancement Project.

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