Leo Peralta spent fewer than 30 years on Earth and less than one year in South Florida.

Despite that brief time, his life impacted many and his sudden death has rocked Wilton Manors and the LGBT community. He died over the weekend at the home he shared with his partner, city commissioner Chris Caputo.

Caputo made the announcement on social media, saying, “My love Leo Peralta moved on to the next life this evening around 11:11. I love Leo. He loved me. He had a heart bigger than you could know. His head sometimes made his heart hurt in ways he didn't understand. He was working on that, but the pain became too much for him to bear too soon.”

Peralta came from Cuba late last year, and just weeks before his death he became a U.S. citizen. As the partner of a very active politician, Peralta quickly became a visible member of the community. Whether it was tending bar at mixer at Wilton Collective or dancing with Caputo on a crowded dance floor at Hunters on Sunday night, you could always spot his smile from across the room. If he spotted you, a warm hug was coming your way.

Honored By City Commission

Despite being less than 48 hours after Peralta’s death, Caputo attended Tuesday’s commission meeting. His friend, Mayor Scott Newton, held a moment of silence at the start of the meeting, and read a statement from Caputo.

“The community has been kinder and more supportive than I could have ever imagined. Your show of support is overwhelming, I am grateful beyond words. I know Leo is here too, and in all honesty I struggle to hold it together. I feel your deep love for me and your love for Leo.” 

You can hear the remarks, in full, on the city’s website post of the meeting.

Personal Struggles

Despite projecting love everywhere he went, inside Peralta was struggling. His suicide came after a long battle with mental health. Caputo, who described him as his “future fiancé,” believes the death can help others live.  

“Leo has found a way to make the passing tragedy crystal clear. His passage is not the end, but instead a beginning of life-saving experiences.”

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Sept. 3, at 4:30 p.m. at Richardson Park. They will accept donations for a fund to help others battling mental health issues.

“His life was given to save others with his struggles,” Caputo said in a statement. 

Outpouring of Love

He touched many in Wilton Manors and South Florida’s LGBT community, and an outpouring of love and memories flooded Peralta’s and Caputo’s social media.

“I love that our last moments were of us goofing around and being playful,” one person wrote, “even though I sprained my neck chicken fighting with you in the pool cause I’m way too old for that.”

If you or someone you know struggles with suicidal thoughts, please call the new suicide hotline. You can call or text 988 to reach trained counselors.