Congress Designates Pulse Nightclub A National Monument

Photo from the front of Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida

Photo from the front of Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida

Days before the fifth anniversary of the horrific Pulse nightclub shooting, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved designating the site of the former nightclub as a national memorial.

The House version of the bill, HR 49, passed on a voice vote on May 12.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Forty-nine people were killed and dozens more injured in the June 12 LGBTQ+ nightclub shooting, which is among the deadliest mass shootings in American history.

A similar bill passed the U.S. House last year but stalled in the Senate. This year’s bill still has to be signed into law by President Joe Biden before the designation becomes official.

The national designation does not incorporate the memorial into the National Park system and it does not require the monument to receive federal funds.

The onePULSE Foundation, a nonprofit founded in the wake of the shooting, plans to build the National Pulse Memorial & Museum in Orlando over the next few years. Preliminary designs for the memorial and museum incorporate the remains of the club into a garden with a reflecting pool and 49 trees, with the open-air museum planned for construction a half-mile away.

Scott Bowman, a spokesman for onePULSE Foundation, issued a statement Wednesday that onePULSE was “thrilled” about the memorial’s national designation.

“The unanimous consent is such welcome news as we are set to mark the five-year remembrance of the Pulse tragedy,” said Bowman. “This recognition from both the House and Senate means so much to the LGBTQ+ community.”

News Round-Up: November 2, 2020

Mike Taveira (photo: David-Simon Dayan)

Some news items you might have missed:

CNBC: The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case concerning the rights of LGBTQ Americans on Wednesday morning in a dispute that advocates are warning could pierce holes in the nation’s anti-discrimination laws. Arguments, which will take place just a day after the presidential election, will mark the first major fight to come before Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was sworn in a week ago.

Instinct Magazine: Taiwan held one of the few Pride Parades this year as nearly 130,000 people gathered to march, dance, and visit a Rainbow Market of 100 LGBTQ-owned or supportive businesses/organizations. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, other countries have gone without Pride events this year, but Taiwan has not had a reported diagnosis of COVID-19 since April. In total, the country has had only 554 recorded cases and only seven deaths nationwide.

Out Music: Out recording artist Mike Taveira (top image) offers his new single, “Karma.” An uber-catchy pop-bop groove, Taveira calls the track “the breakup anthem for anyone who feels like their ex has yet received the karma they deserve.”

“I do believe in karma and I do believe she is coming,” says Taveira. “She just likes to wait for the perfect timing and I was impatient, which led to the song.”

The Advocate: Parliament House, the iconic Orlando nightclub that has been serving central Florida’s LGBTQ+ population for 45 years, is closing, though the owners say it’s not a permanent closure. In a Facebook post, they tried to get the money for much-needed renovations, but they sadly couldn’t reach their goal.

The Signorile Report: Michelangelo takes a look at what it will take for a President Joe Biden to get The Equality Act passed in his first 100 days as promised.

KIT212: I’m catching up on Kenneth’s weekly round-up of LGBTQ publications like DNA Magazine’s 250th issue featuring cover model Julian Gabriel (below).

(image via DNA Magazine)

Pulse Nightclub Survivors Host ‘Ex-Gay’ Rally In Orlando

Over the weekend, two survivors of the deadly Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, hosted a rally promising ‘deliverance to the LGBTQ community through religion.’

According to the Orlando Sentinel, tens of people gathered at the rainbow amphitheater at Lake Eola Park. Members of the group Changed Movement told the attendees that they have “chosen identity in Christ” over being homosexual.

The rally, which was staged much like a religious service, included testimonials from members who say they left the LGBTQ ‘lifestyle’ after finding religion.

Among them were Luis Javier Ruiz, 36, (above) and Angel Colon, 29, who survived the Pulse massacre on June 12, 2016, which left 49 dead and 53 more injured. Since the deadly shooting, the two say they have become heterosexual through religion.

After healing from their injuries, the two founded Fearless Identity, a religious ministry which, according to the official website, promises to bring “hope and understanding to the LGBTQ community and the church through education, biblical clarity, and support in a judgement free environment for those seeking the option to change.”

The duo promise, however, that the ‘option to change’ is not about so-called conversion therapy.

Ruiz made a point of underscoring that message at the rally on Saturday telling those gathered, “I want to make a public declaration: This is not conversion therapy, this is not electrotherapy, this is not shock therapy.”

“This is all the Holy Spirit, this is the man that died on the cross,” he continued. “This man never cheated on me, never slept with my best friend. He’s the man on the cross.”

Prior to the so-called ‘Freedom March,’ LGBTQ advocates in Orange County called for a statewide ban on conversion therapy.

Brandon Wolf, another survivor of the Pulse Nightclub shooting and an LGBTQ advocate, attended a county commission meeting last week asking his local leaders to “take a stand against conversion therapy.”

And Wayne Besen, of Truth Wins Out, which works to expose conversion therapy and the ‘ex-gay myth,’ interviewed Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan who shared her own painful experience with conversion therapy.

“I knew I was attracted to women, but I thought I could pray the gay away,” said Sheehan, the first openly gay elected official in central Florida.

Sheehan told Besen that, as a teen, she attended a church that promoted ‘ex-gay’ therapy

During meetings with the group, Sheehan was promised that an orange mucous was going to “emanate from me as the demon of homosexuality left my body.”

Sheehan told Truth Wins Out her message to people considering taking part in an ‘ex-gay’ ministry program is to “get some counseling outside of the church and really get a handle on where you are at, because I think they will take advantage of you, they will make you dependent and they will not do what’s in your best interest.”

Survivors Of Pulse Massacre To Headline ‘Ex-Gay’ Event In Orlando

Pulse Nightclub massacre survivor Luis Javier Ruiz
Pulse Nightclub massacre survivor Luis Javier Ruiz
Luis Javier Ruiz (image via Facebook)

Two survivors of the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting who say they are no longer gay have been announced to headline an “ex-gay” rally in Orlando, Florida.

Luis Javier Ruiz and Angel Colon will take part in the so-called “Freedom March” scheduled to take place September 14 at Orlando’s Lake Eloa Park, located just minutes from the site of Pulse Nightclub.

As Newsweek reports, organizers of the event say the point of the rally is to celebrate “freedom from homosexual/transgender lifestyles by the grace and power of Jesus Christ.”

The Freedom March organization has held similar events across the U.S. The most recent rally was held in St. Paul, Minnesota, in June 2019.

Both Ruiz and Colon say they no longer identify as gay.

At the Freedom March in Washington, D.C. in May, Ruiz told NBC News, “I don’t want to tell everyone it’s a ‘gay-to-straight’ thing because God is not calling me to that.”

“I feel that I want to live in a life of purity,” he added. “I feel that through loving Christ, he will walk me out of any situation. I love the LGBTQ community, I love my family. There’s no hate here—there’s love.”

During the Pulse massacre, Colon was reportedly shot six times and was trampled by club-goers trying to escape the shooter. It would be two months before he would be able to walk again.

Colon recently appeared on a Christian podcast, The Roys Report, where he told the host the shooting was the impetus for him to renounce homosexuality.

“A couple months before June, I started praying to God and I told him, ‘Lord, You know my situation, You know my heart, You know I want to worship you. But I cannot do it on my own will,” he told host Julie Roys. “Please help me come back to you.”

And according to Colon, on June 12, at 2:02 a.m., “everything just changed in an instant.”

The two men have also founded an organization called ‘Fearless Identity,’ which encourages people to “reject their LGBT identities.” According to Newsweek, forming the group was the mens’ response to backlash for identifying as ex-gay.

Ruiz posted this video to YouTube where he explains being diagnosed as HIV-positive was what pushed him to ‘reject’ being gay.

Orlando Plans Day Of Remembrance On 1st Anniversary Of Pulse Nightclub Massacre

The city of Orlando is planning

Via the Associated Press:

Orlando and Orange County officials want the first anniversary next June of the Pulse nightclub massacre to be marked with acts of love and kindness. Elected officials on Monday said that June 12 officially would be dedicated as “Orlando United Day – A Day of Love and Kindness.” Officials also announced a series of events planned throughout the day on June 12.

An exhibit of artwork collected from memorial sites set up around Orlando after the massacre will be shown at the Orange County History Center, followed by a memorial service at the site of the former gay nightclub. Another memorial ceremony will be held in the evening around downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola.

Go to the Orlando United Day website for more details.

Orlando: Mass Shooting At Gay Nightclub Leaves 50 Dead, 53 Hospitalized

Omar Mateen

A man identified as Omar Marteen went on a deadly shooting spree at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, last night killing 50 and leaving 53 more hospitalized.

The shooting incident began at 2AM with approximately 320 people in the club.

It is officially the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States.

Mateen — who was armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and a handgun, according to Orlando’s police chief — entered Pulse club around 2 a.m. Sunday morning and began shooting. After most of the 320 people there escaped, Mateen took hostages from a group that was hiding in a bathroom. Shortly before 6 a.m., a SWAT unit breached the club and engaged Mateen in what’s being called a protracted gun battle. Mateen was killed.

The police classified the attack as a “terror incident. The police and the federal authorities said they were pursuing several angles in the terrorism investigation, both overseas and in the United States.

The shooting was clearly a hate crime meant to target LGBT people, and is being investigated as an act of terrorism.

NBC News reports:

Law enforcement sources told NBC News that Mateen was born in New York in 1986 and was listed as living at a residence in Port St. Lucie, about 125 miles south of Orlando. The incident is being investigated as an act of terrorism, officials said.

Mir Seddique, Mateen’s father told NBC News, “this has nothing to do with religion.” Seddique said his son got angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami a couple of months ago and thinks that may be related to the shooting.

“We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident. We weren’t aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country,” Seddique said.

According to CNN, the terrorist called 911 about the attack, pledged allegiance to ISIS and mentioned the Boston bombers, according to a U.S. official.

Equality Florida, the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization is collecting contributions via a GoFundMe page to support the victims of the horrific shooting at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub. Please contribute and share this page.

We are reeling from the tragic news that a gunman opened fire on the 2am capacity crowd at Pulse leaving 20 people dead and 42 injured according to preliminary reports. We are heartbroken and angry that senseless violence has once again destroyed lives in our state and in our country.

Gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history. They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety. June commemorates our community standing up to anti-LGBTQ violence at the Stonewall Inn, the nightclub that has become the first LGBTQ site recognized as a national monument.

​We have received a steady stream of emails and messages from those seeking to help or to make sense of the senseless. We make no assumptions on motive. We will await the details in tears of sadness and anger. We stand in solidarity and keep our thoughts on all whose lives have been lost or altered forever in this tragedy.

President Barack Obama will address the nation about the terror attack in Orlando at 1:30pmET from the White House briefing room.

Florida: Orlando Mayor Offers To Marry Same-Sex Couples On January 6th

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has announced he will officiate a huge same-sex wedding ceremony on January 6th – the first day gays and lesbians can wed in the state.

BUT – will the County Clerk issue the licenses?

From the Orlando Sentinel:

According to the association, the City Hall event is scheduled for 9 a.m., but Dyer’s office said the timing would depend on if and when the Orange County Clerk’s office grants the marriage licenses.

Couples in Florida must find a Florida clerk to grant them the licenses. Orange County Clerk Tiffany Moore Russell and others have said they won’t, following the advice of a Tallahassee law firm that warned last week that they could be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor if they do.

A spokesman for Moore Russell on Monday said she was still studying the issue.

Other groups have also planned mass wedding events in the Orlando area:

• The GLBT Community Center of Central Florida will also host a same-sex wedding bash at 6 p.m. on January 6.

• Ministers from the First Unitarian Church of Orlando have offered to marry any same-sex couple for free in back-to-back ceremonies Jan. 10, starting at 1 p.m.

Meanwhile, several county clerks from across the state say they will not be issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on the 6th. Representatives from Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties all say they are “uncomfortable” on the issue without further guidance due to a memo from Greenberg Traurig, the law firm that represents state county clerks.

This one is going to get very sticky before we get to January 6th, kids, just watch.