This is exactly how I perceive Joaquín's character and the relationship between him and Kevin:
"For as dangerous as his life can be, I think he's a lot more sensitive than he seems. In my eyes, Kevin is his hopeful light that proves that love can exist in his darker world."
—Rob Raco, 2017
I don't get why some people still say that Joaquín only dated Kevin to spy on Kevin's dad who was the sheriff at the time. Joaquín didn't really use Kevin.
When Joaquín first met Kevin, he had no idea who Kevin was. He seemed pretty shocked to find out that he was making out with the sheriff's son.
As Fangs told Kevin in Episode 2x10, Joaquín talked about Kevin all the time. So, FP must have overheard Joaquín gushing about Kevin, and so he ordered Joaquín to spy on Kevin's dad.
Like Rob Raco said, Joaquín's feelings for Kevin were REAL and he even expressed them...NO MATTER WHAT.
Sadly, the "I love you" scene between Joaquín and Kevin got deleted. Rob Raco revealed that the goodbye scene between Joaquín and Kevin was a lot longer with crying, kissing, hugging, and both of them saying "I love you."
The Riverdale Season 3 comics revealed that Joaquín was thinking about Kevin while he was in juvie.
Episode 3x05 showed that Joaquín and Kevin still care for each other.
Rob Raco and Casey Cott felt Joavin's love for each other during their scenes together; they had a strong connection back then. (No one can take that away from me.)