Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37, barely spoke English when he moved from Puerto Rico to Florida in 2004, but he wasn't deterred by the language barrier.
He quickly learned English, got a job and eventually met his partner, Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35, who also died.
"(Wilson-Leon) walked into the room and all eyes were on him because of his positive energy, just what he radiated ... I'm heartbroken," said his cousin, Laly Santiago-Leon, adding that the couple frequented Pulse and loved Latin Night.
Longtime friend Daniel Gmys-Casiano described Wilson-Leon as a protector and confidante. The two grew up in the same small town, and when Gmys-Casiano moved to the U.S., Wilson-Leon gave him a job in a shoe store.
"He was my hero," Gmys-Casiano told the Orlando Sentinel.
Even though Wilson-Leon had been bullied for his sexuality, Gmys-Casiano said, "he never retaliated with hate. ... He would stand to protect his friends."