Above All, A Family Man is a short story by American-Cuban writer, Achy Obejas, that explores the contrasting norms in latino and gay culture. The plot of the piece is fairly simple in that the protagonist, Tommy Drake, and his lover, Rogelio, are on a trip to Sante Fe during which they have an impromptu stop in St. Louis. The essence of this piece instead lies in Tommy’s flashbacks — those of which call on the reader to question whether adhering to social expectations is really worth one’s happiness.
Through Tommy we become familiar with Rogelio, who genuinely does not consider himself gay despite his relationship with Tommy. Rogelio is presented as the stereotypical latino male via acts such as comparing his penis size with others, and protecting his family. For instance, Rogelio first meets Tommy on the beach because one of his kids kicks a ball into Tommy’s lap. Rogelio approaches Tommy, and dares him to speak rudely to his child. Tommy states, “oh, it wasn’t love at first sight, it was fear…there he was, this little bull ready to charge if I said the wrong thing” (Obejas 50). However, in the same moment, Obejas reveals Rogelio is really not the ideal latino male at all, but a complex individual having trouble accepting his sexual identity. When the opportunity arises, Rogelio sneaks away from his family and goes back over to Tommy and asks him out.
As the short story progresses, Rogelio continues to struggle with satisfying both his desires and societal expectations, which are measured against Tommy’s numbered days. By the end of the piece, one is not sure who to be more frustrated with: the individual or the society who shaped Rogelio. If you’re in the market for some short and thought-provoking fiction, please follow the link below.
— Andrea Rodriguez, Blogger.
Andrea Rodriguez’s Bio
Andrea Rodriguez is a senior at Lewis University. Prior to attending Lewis, she completed her associates at the College of DuPage. Rodriguez is studying English Literature in order to pursue a career as an academic librarian. As for her interests, Andrea loves spending time with her family, being in nature, taking care of her plants, writing, cooking, and traveling when she can. Andrea also enjoys exploring unique writing styles. Some of her favorite pieces include The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson and “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid. In addition to being a fiction/poetry editor for Jet Fuel Review, Rodriguez is the editor-in-chief of Lewis Voices, and the administrative director for Sigma Tau Delta, of which she is also a member.