|Anti-gay groups are exploiting a survivor of the Pulse tragedy to fight against a pro-gay bill in California.|
There is a bill in CA, AB2943, which would outlaw marketing or selling the fraudulent practice of ex-gay therapy. The religious right have been fighting like mad to create a narrative which would allow them to fight the bill. First, they tried to portray it as something called a "must stay gay" ban. That didn't resonate. Then they falsely claimed that the bill would ban the Bible. That narrative failed. The two attempts to falsely portray the bill failed because its supporters consistently pointed out that it has to do with financial practices and transactions rather than personal beliefs.
So now from the religious right comes this new direction which is simply downright vile - exploiting a survivor of the Pulse tragedy to wreck the bill.
From the Family Research Council:
It's been two full years since it happened. People were still dancing at a nightclub on the south side of Orlando, when a gunman walked through the doors and brutally ended the lives of 49 people. India Goodman says she can still feel the body slumped against her in the dark, shielding her from bullets. She's just one of the survivors who says their story changed forever.
Luis Javier Ruiz is another. Like so many others in the Pulse nightclub that night, Luis thinks a lot about what could have happened. He looks back on his struggles then, identifying as a gay man, and believes -- without a doubt -- that it was the lowest point of his life. "I should have been number 50," he posted after the tragedy. An emotional Ruiz talked about how difficult things had been, even before the horror that June night.
"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've grown to know His love in a deeper level. 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 know who I am and I am not defined with who the enemy says I use to be -- but who Christ Jesus says I am."
Luis went public with his story, joining the Freedom March in early May with other people who've walked away from a lifestyle that brought nothing but pain. "It's not a gay-to-straight thing," he tells reporters, "but a lost to save[d] thing." During his recovery, he remembers, members of a local church came in and prayed with him. They shared portions of Scripture and told him about the love of God. Through that, he says, "I was able to not only just be free of the lifestyle but be free of me in general -- from every type of sin."
Two years later, he wants others to find the same freedom he has. But in places like California, opponents are doing everything they can to keep people from experiencing the healing Luis knows. Under a bill that's working its way through the not so Golden State legislature, it would be outright illegal to offer the kind of help or counseling that changed Luis's life. LGBT activists, the same ones who used to plead for the right to live any way they pleased, are trying to take that freedom away from others by making it a crime to offer paid counseling to people who are voluntarily seeking help. And that includes pastors or other faith-based therapists!
Yesterday, at a committee hearing for the measure, AB 2943, Luis had an opportunity to share his story and how unfair it would be to rob others of that same second chance. "The Pulse nightclub shooting was a very tragic event, and I lost many friends... And I don't feel that someone should dictate and tell me that I can't go seek help for any of that. I think we should vote 'no!'" he told the rally beforehand.
My heart goes out to Mr. Ruiz even though what he is doing is wrong. In reality, his story is no different than the tripe we have heard in the past from others in the "ex-gay" movement. They were in a world of bad behavior such as drugs and alcohol abuse but now their blame their sexual orientation for their own personal choices instead of taking responsibility. There is just one difference between Mr. Ruiz and the others. He survived one of the worst tragedies in American history. He saw many people get cut down by a madman and was at edge of losing his life himself. To be involved in that sort of thing has to do awful things to your mind. I don't blame him for whatever way he is attempting to reconcile his life.
But I do call out groups like the Family Research Council who are exploiting him, and through him, are exploiting the Pulse tragedy and its victims. FRC didn't even say one word of commemoration about the tragedy, not even in the tripe which I posted. Not one word about the other victims, even those who are no longer with us. All the group did was to exploit Mr. Ruiz's pain to push against a bill which would eliminate future pain in the LGBTQ community.
And no matter what happens in California, this will probably not be the last time we hear from Mr. Ruiz. Anti-LGBTQ hate groups and their allies will be shoving him on the front lines so that the media can soak up his words and bask in his sad aura. He will no doubt serve as a distraction from the many medical bodies, physicians, Ph.Ds, and people with personal experiences who can testify to the fraud that is ex-gay therapy just as he tried to do in California.
After all, Mr. Ruiz's story resonates, even if it paints a lie which could create more LGBTQs drowning in pools of self-hate where they will indulge in bad behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse until they, in some form or another, become the new victims of exploitation by groups like the Family Research Council - new pawns to attack the LGBTQ community.
And do not think for a minute that the Family Research Council and other anti-LGBTQ groups aren't aware of this possible outcome. They are counting on it.