“Persecution is a necessary ingredient so that you can be the way and the light that God called you to be,” says Pastor Mark Vega at the 2018 Unbound Conference. (Taylour Marks/WUFT News)
Home / People of Florida / ‘God Loves Gay People’: Pulse Survivor Lends His Support To Controversial Gainesville Conference

‘God Loves Gay People’: Pulse Survivor Lends His Support To Controversial Gainesville Conference

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A local church is facing backlash from the LGBTQ community for promoting what some argue is “disguised conversion therapy.”

The Ignite Life Center’s Unbound Conference was met with protesters from the “Free-2-B-U” March on Friday evening. LGBTQ activists rallied against a conference hosted by the Gainesville church because it promotes “deliverance,” which many believe is actually just conversion therapy, which is banned in Gainesville.

Leaders of multiple faiths gathered Friday evening to address the gay-to-straight testimonials featured at the Ignite Life Center’s “Unbound” Conference. At the Free-2-B-U protest rally, Jose Vega discussed his near-death experience with conversion therapy at a different church.

“They called it ‘deliverance’ or ‘accepting God’s plan for my life,’” he said. “For five and a half years, hearing someone every single week tell you ‘You’re dirty, you need to be healed, you need to be restored.’ Unfortunately, I got to a really dark point in my life where I started to contemplate suicide and just said I don’t want to live anymore.”

Religious leaders of multiple faiths kneel in a community prayer outside of the Ignite Community Center’s Unbound Conference. The group is protesting the event which they claims promotes “deliverance” and conversion therapy. – Taylour Marks/WUFT News

Inside the church, there was insistence that the Unbound Conference had nothing to do with conversion therapy but rather acceptance. Associate Pastor Nicole Gomez said the event intended to promote unity.

“The Unbound Conference is our attempt at equipping, training, and empowering our leaders on how to really demonstrate the love of Christ to the LGBTQ community,” she said.

Supporters of the Unbound Conference included Pulse Nightclub shooting survivor Angel Colon, who says his traumatic experience brought him closer to God.

“The moment that we surrendered our lives to God and we gave our battle to him, we didn’t even focus about being gay,” he said. “We welcome the LGBT back into the church and tell them, ‘Welcome, we love you.’ We love gay people. God loves gay people.”

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About Taylour Marks

Taylour is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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