Welcome to the 18th installment of our 2021 Pride Month Series! Each day in the month of June, we will be highlighting a different member of the LGBTQ+ community who we think is a great example of representation and dynamic characterization. We will focus on fictional characters, celebrities, and activists alike — the positive voices within the LGBTQ+ community and in mainstream media.
Carlos Reyes, played by Rafael Silva, is an Austin, Texas police officer on FOX’s 9-1-1: Lone Star. While things with current boyfriend, paramedic T.K. Strand, started off rocky, Carlos was sure to wait for him as long as he needed to. Their relationship now has fully blossomed and the two have been getting closer than ever, aside from a few misunderstandings. Carlos’ relationship with his parents is a complicated one, as they don’t completely understand him, but he knows they love and support him regardless. Plus, he is a very dedicated officer. Keep reading to see why Carlos Reyes is being recognized in this Pride Month Spotlight.
The first season saw Carlos pining over someone he didn’t think was possible to get. We saw the beginning of Tarlos, which was only the beginning of what is now an iconic ship. Carlos first meets T.K. during a call at the end of the pilot and although it’s not much, as he comments on what an impressive guy Owen is, to which T.K. responds with, “He’s my dad,” there was already a spark brewing between the two. In the following episode, the 126 are at a bar and Carlos is there as well. Carlos, making the first move, asks T.K. to dance with him and soon, they take it back to Carlos’ where they go a lot further. Although the following morning Carlos wants to go for a quick second round before work, T.K., not wanting much out of the relationship, just wants to listen to music. Talking to Michelle later on, Carlos admits that he’s attracted to T.K. and he can’t get him out of his head. Though Carlos doesn’t want to be the one doing the chasing.
In episode four after T.K. gets into a sober bar fight, Carlos is the one to talk to him at the station. During the conversation, T.K. opens up about what happened in New York and Carlos is understanding, knowing what he’s gone through now, telling him that he’ll be there for him and wait for him as long as it takes. After T.K. is shot in episode eight, Carlos comes to his side, but not wanting to intrude as Owen is with his son. Owen leaves Carlos with T.K. and Carlos just sits down, stroking his arm and head until the rest of the 126 come in.
In the season finale two episodes later, once T.K. is recovering, the two of them are at a juice bar, trying to clear the air, or address the “Elephant in the juice bar.” Carlos admits that when he saw T.K. laying in the hospital bed, not knowing if he was going to wake up, he had all of these strong feelings for him. He doesn’t know what they are, and even though he’s been waiting, he doesn’t know how long it’s going to be. However, after helping out together during the solar storm downtown, the two watch the Aurora Borealis together in a field while laying on top of Carlos’ car. Carlos mentions they make a pretty good team and T.K., grabbing his hand, agrees. It’s the official start to their relationship and it’s beautiful. It solidifies what is about to come for them and T.K., feeling safe with Carlos after everything he’s been through, knows he’s made the right choice.
Carlos is also a dedicated officer and friend. We first meet Carlos when he comes to arrest Michelle, yet again, in the pilot episode. As Michelle is worried about her sister, Ivy, who went missing three years prior, Carlos is always lending his support. Throughout the season, Carlos helps Michelle find her sister, even if some of the things Michelle does may or may not be against the law. He knows how much it means to her to find her sister, so Carlos mostly acts like a friend rather than a cop. When the truck that Ivy was in when she went missing turns up, Carlos is there for Michelle and lends a shoulder for her to cry on. Their friendship, while it wasn’t seen much, was a special one and showed how close they were. Michelle was even the one who suggested to Carlos to give T.K. a chance and that being the one to do the chasing isn’t always bad. While Michelle left to be with her family after season 1, their friendship will always be one of the better ones on the series because you can really tell how much they care for each other.
Tarlos is in an official relationship at the start of season 2. And by then, Carlos has gotten pretty cozy with the rest of the 126. He occasionally hosts “126 hangs” at his house so the team can have a safe and fun place to be during quarantine. Carlos and T.K.’s relationship is stable, bantering at calls, but in the fourth episode, the two of them are at a farmer’s market and run into Carlos’ parents, much to Carlos’ dismay. T.K. is excited to finally meet his boyfriend’s parents, though Carlos introduces T.K. as a friend from work. This upsets T.K., not understanding why he didn’t introduce him as his boyfriend. Back at Carlos’, T.K. starts grabbing some of his things and Carlos doesn’t know why he’s so upset. He starts to make jokes about it but T.K. is all serious. Carlos admits that he is out to his parents but it’s complicated. Not wanting to hear any more, T.K. leaves, telling Carlos that he doesn’t want to rub his parents’ noses in the fact that he has somebody who loves him and that he supposedly loves back. When Carlos doesn’t reply, he tells him he’s freed up some space in his closet.
After T.K. has an interesting, but helpful, conversation with his parents, T.K. goes back to Carlos’ and tries to understand why he introduced him to his parents as his friend. Carlos tells him that the last thing he wanted was for him to feel insecure. He confesses that he came out to his parents when he was 17 and while they told him they loved him, that was that. And it wasn’t really brought up since. Carlos says that his parents are nice but they aren’t perfect. T.K. brings up something his mom said, that he didn’t feel safe in the relationship. But what he didn’t consider was how safe Carlos feels, and how he’s felt for so much of his life. T.K. offers his support to Carlos, for however long he needs it. Carlos wonders about the fact that if it never changes but T.K. tells him that nothing ever stays the same. It’s a heartbreaking episode with such a beautiful moment between them, and proves that nothing can get in the way of their relationship and they’re able to get through anything.
The winter finale is the biggest episode for Carlos so far. After Carlos trusts his instincts and lets a criminal go, he is put on suspension due to his bad call. He talks to his Texas Ranger father who overtakes the case and doesn’t really understand him. Carlos goes to the firehouse, hoping to talk to T.K. but he is out on a call, so he talks to Owen instead. The talk that they have is like a father-in-law/son-in-law talk. Carlos is feeling insecure about his gut instinct and opens up to Owen about his own father and not feeling like he’s fit to be a cop, like he’s too soft. Owen tells him how having a heart is what makes him a good cop. It’s a touching moment between the two of them, while Owen is bonding with his son’s boyfriend, Carlos is yearning for a fatherly figure who supports him.
Later on in the episode, Carlos is waiting for T.K. to come home for dinner, and he keeps calling and texting him but there’s no answer. Worried, Carlos goes to the Strand household to see if there’s any update. When Owen learns that the ambulance is still out with no word from Tommy, T.K. or Nancy, he and Carlos team up to find out what happened to the EMS team. When they finally locate the three at Tommy’s husband’s restaurant, Carlos reunites with a barely-conscious and injured T.K., relieved that he’s okay. As T.K. is being loaded onto the ambulance, Carlos is by his side and Owen and Gabriel are watching them. Owen comments how it’s because of Carlos that they were able to find them and he tells Gabriel that he’s an impressive guy. Gabriel tells Carlos he’s proud of him and asks if he wants to be with his boyfriend. He admits to Carlos that he’s known since the market and he wants a proper introduction next time. The winter finale is where we really saw more of Carlos than ever before, with his relationship with his father, Owen, and T.K. Seeing him so worried about his boyfriend proves just how much he loves and cares for him.
Season 2 also sees Carlos and T.K. take a big step in their relationship. In the 10th episode, T.K. moves in with Carlos and a couple of episodes later, the two have dinner with their parents. The Reyes’ finally meet Owen and while it seemed like things were going well, Gabriel, along with other Texas Rangers, arrests Owen on suspicion for being an arsonist. When Carlos comes down to the firehouse to tell T.K. what happened and admit that his father was the one who arrested him, T.K. doesn’t take it very well. He’s upset at the fact that Carlos thinks his dad did it but Carlos, just doing his job, knows how it’s supposed to be. He tries to comfort T.K. despite him hitting him and pushing him, up until the point Judd tells him to leave. Carlos was just doing his job and even though it hurt him to see T.K. like that, he knew it had to be done. Luckily, at least for Owen and Gabriel, it was all a big act to lure the real arsonist out. For Carlos and T.K., however, it was a moment neither of them would forget, and while they made up afterwards, it was still hard on both of them.
Later on in the episode, Carlos and T.K.’s house is up in flames because of the arsonist. The two of them don’t notice right away as they are too occupied with something else. When T.K. smells smoke, he and Carlos try everything they can to find a way out since they’re on the top floor. Before Carlos jumps out, he turns back to T.K. and tells him he loves him, T.K. tells him the same. Owen, Billy and Judd come to their rescue and outside the burnt and unrecognizable house, T.K. and Carlos have a very honest talk. T.K. asks him how he’s doing and Carlos admits he didn’t think they were going to make it out. While starting to cry, Carlos apologizes for not having an extinguisher upstairs and T.K. just hugs him, telling him they’re okay. It’s an intense time for the both of them and makes them realize they have to cherish what they have. They could care less about what happened to the house, because all that matters is that they’re both okay.
While we didn’t get too much of Carlos doing solo police work in season 2, we did get to see more of his relationship with his family, his father especially. While Carlos’ parents didn’t seem too supportive when Carlos was talking about them with T.K., Carlos still loves his parents despite them not fully coming to terms with him being out. And after Gabriel and Andrea meet Owen and they see Carlos and T.K. together, it’s clear to them that Carlos has a very affectionate and caring and loving partner. Gabriel even admits that he loves that his son is with Owen’s boy.
Season 3 of 9-1-1: Lone Star won’t be premiering until at least January 2022, meaning that we still have quite some time without Carlos Reyes. As his relationship with T.K. is getting stronger, we are starting to see more of his vulnerable side. And although storylines for the third season are mostly unknown, hopefully we will get more of Carlos, and just Carlos, as well as more of his backstory or more of his relationship with his parents. Obviously his relationship with T.K. is just as important so seeing more of them next season will be something to look forward to. His relationship with T.K., his parents, his friends, and his dedication to his job and following his instincts is what makes Carlos such an incredible character. Rafael Silva portraying a gay, Latino cop is so important right now and his performance in each episode just gets better and better. Fingers crossed we see more of Carlos Reyes in season 3 of 9-1-1: Lone Star.
Catch more of Rafael Silva as Carlos Reyes in the first two seasons of 9-1-1: Lone Star streaming on Hulu. Season 3 is expected to premiere during midseason 2022 on FOX.
P.S. Happy Birthday, Rafa!