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Remembering the Orlando 49: Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado

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Every week between now and the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shootings, Orlando Weekly will profile a person killed on June 12, 2016. This week: Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado.

Xavier Serrano Rosado had many passions in life, but his focus always stayed on one: his 5-year-old son, Kelvyn.

The 35-year-old originally from Ponce, Puerto Rico, performed at local theme parks, including Disney World and Universal, before leaving to work at a shoe store to provide income and spend more time with his child, even though it meant not being a full-time dancer, says Kelvyn's mother, Wilmariel Lozano. A video of one of his last performances as Eman Valentino at Parliament House shows Serrano Rosado lip-syncing and doing pirouettes under strobe lights, dressed in a bejeweled top hat and cape.

"There was nothing that made him happier than dancing," she says in Spanish. "It was always in his mind to open his own dance studio and teach others. But he left that to get a better job with better hours. His son was his life."

Serrano Rosado and Lozano met about 10 years ago when they became impromptu partners for a salsa competition and began dancing professionally as a couple. Few understood their relationship before and after they had their son, Lozano says. People assumed they were married, but Serrano Rosado was gay. She describes him as her "partner, best friend, brother, soul mate," a person who loved his family and a "spectacular father" who played video games with his son and turned their living room into a blanket fort.

"It didn't matter what time of day it was or the situation – if I knocked on his door, he would always answer and help," she says. "He was a special person. His energy, his happiness would put a smile on your face. You could be going through something horrible and he would make you feel a thousand times better."

Most recently, Serrano Rosado was in a happy months-long relationship with Leroy Valentín Fernández, a dancer Lozano calls a loving person. Their last night together was at Pulse; both men died in the shooting June 12.

"Part of me still doesn't understand," she says. "I know what happened. I know he's not here with me. I see the photos and the videos. But part of me just can't believe it. It hurts so much."

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