February 1, 2024

Why Is Jose So Gay?

For the past two years, Jose Rolon (aka @nycgaydad) has had his more than 30,000 TikTok followers in hysterics with videos of him and his adorable family—an 8-year-old son, Avery, and twin daughters, Lilah and London. He also works as a wedding planner and advocates for body acceptance in the LGBTQ community. But life hasn’t always been easy for the father of three.

In a country where the church is in the vanguard of a conservative stance against homosexuality, Jose’s plight offers a fascinating window into a culture that is both deeply religious and very modern at once. His mother is desperate to make ends meet in their cramped apartment, and Jose slacks off at his menial restaurant job. He occasionally hooks up with other men through whatever Grindr-like app is available in Guatemala City, but when he meets the sensitive, handsome immigrant construction worker Luis, they form a genuine relationship.

While there is plenty of male full-frontal nudity, the sex scenes never become pornographic and instead delve into the mechanics of these relationships, which are not always easy or successful. The film’s neorealist patchwork of moments, including an earthquake and a street robbery, also add depth and resonance.

Though not the first movie to spotlight a gay coming-of-age in a difficult environment, this sophomore effort from director Li Cheng and writer George F. Roberson feels fresh, insightful and singularly affecting. It’s a small gem that’s well worth seeking out, especially for its deeply moving finale.


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