Remembering the Orlando 49: Leroy Valentín Fernández 

click to enlarge leroyfernandez.jpg

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: Leroy Valentín Fernández

Leroy Valentín Fernández was a diva, but not in the way defined by a Mariah Carey or a Madonna. Fernández lived by Beyoncé's definition of the word: "Diva is the female version of a hustler."

By day, the 25-year-old Puerto Rican native worked as a leasing agent through Bridge Property Management, and on the side, he went to people's houses to do their hair and makeup, says his best friend and co-worker, Pedro Feliciano. Once the lights went down, the entertainer side of Fernández emerged and it was named Indara Valkayre. Wearing luscious wigs, tight bodysuits and high boots, Fernández emulated his idol Queen B in drag, re-creating her dance routines on stage perfectly. His closest friends playfully called him "la golda," a play on the Puerto Rican accent for the word "gorda" or "fat one." Fernández also choreographed routines for a local traveling dance troupe he was in with Feliciano and other friends.

Feliciano says Fernández recently told him that he was the happiest he'd ever been because of his months-long relationship with Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, who was 10 years his senior. Their last night together was at the gay nightclub Pulse; both men died in the mass shooting on June 12.

"He was an overall great friend," Feliciano says. "He loved to make people smile and be the life of the party."

Feliciano says he can't see himself dancing without Fernández, but he tries to keep the good times they had together at the forefront. Back in May, Feliciano scored tickets for Beyoncé's concert in Tampa and took a very excited Fernández with him.

"He literally knew every song, and we sang along to all of them," Feliciano says. "That made his night and day. It's a memory I'll carry with me forever."

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