The two novels about the Angel family, The Rain God (1984) and Migrant Souls (1990), gay Chicano writer (and Stanford professor) Arturo Islas (1938-91) wrote continued all three genre conventions that Karl Reinhardt specified (in a chapter in my book Latin American Male Homosexualities [University of New Mexico Press, 1995]):
(1) incidental gay characters not pertinent to the plot are presented derogatorily in their behavior and labels, but their “homosexuality” is social, not sexual;
(2) gay characters somehow pertinent to the plot must fail, committing or reportedly committing an unacceptable act, with resultant humiliation, insanity or some other bad end; or
(3) in writings in which homosexuality is central, Chicano characters are excluded from the world described.
In the older (than Islas’s) generation, Felix had sexual relations with Mexicans, although no particular instance is mentioned. “Fair” in the following might not mean light-skinned: “Constantly on the lookout for the shy and fair god who would land safely on the shore at last, Felix searched for his youth in obscure places on both sides of the river” (1984:115). The men Felix hired and to whom he provided physical exams that focused on checking for hernias and prostate problems (p. 116) were Mexicans, whereas the eighteen-year-old soldier who kicked him to death when Felix tried to make him was “fair with light-colored eyes” and with no knowledge of Spanish (p. 134).
In the next generation (and next novel), a lesbian niece named Serena has a Boston Irish lover (Mary Margaret Ryan). Her sister (Josie), the only family member to be divorced, had married a local Anglo and the father of her second daughter is Cherokee-French. Miguel Chico, the gay male of the second generation born in America (El Paso, called Del Sapo in the novels) has no apparent sexual relations with other Mexican-Americans. He lives alone in San Francisco at the present time in both novels.
Serena is an incidental character. Her sexuality and that of Miguel Chico are not detailed (in contrast to that of Felix in the first novel and that of Josie in the second).
Felix is an important character (at least for two middle chapters in The Rain God). Miguel Chico has little plot function in The Rain God, but is the central figure of Migrant Souls. As the author of a too-close-to-the-truth novel about his family published by a small West Coast publisher(1990:209-10), he is fairly obviously a representation of the author.
Being kicked to death in the desert is far from a pleasant end, but Miguel Chico seems much more tormented than Felix ever was. Drinking oneself to death is slower, but harder on those around one than being murdered is. “Already, in his early teens, he was addicted to guilt,” Islas (1990:60) wrote of Miguel Chico. His “cousins accused him of being a sissy” (1984:169), and his father thought that his mother and a servant woman turned him into a joto. Miguel Chico “had always felt that his father disliked him for being too delicate, too effeminate. Miguel Grande had consistently refused to acknowledge that his son’s feelings and needs might be different from his own” (p. 94). Part of this rigidity (in a man who was a police captain) probably derived from discomfort about Miguel Grande’s older brother Felix: “As they grew older, Felix’s behavior embarrassed Miguel Grande, and he hoped that the stigma of being jotos would not reach past his brother” (p. 87). After Felix has been murdered, Miguel Grande tells Felix’s daughter Lena “I don’t care what my brother did. I loved the hell out of him” (p. 86), but the omniscient narrator (who is at the very least bears considerable affinity to his son) reports that
he felt ashamed and frustrated. He had never been able to understand Felix’s obsession and did not want to. The thought of touching another man in those ways disgusted him, and his knowledge that Felix enjoyed doing such things had created a barrier between them that neither ever made the effort to overcome. (Islas 1984:87)
This is the interpretation of a gay son (Miguel Chico and/or Arturo Islas). He also notes that “Serena always brought her mother to the family celebrations and left her roommate at home” (1990:217) and recurrently rails at the conspiracy of silence about heterosexual and homosexual deviations from the ideal of monogamous heterosexual marriage. For instance,
Josie knew that what she was in the family’s eyes was a sinner. Not one of her relatives-not even her mother- would have called her that to her face, for they were good Catholic people and needed mediators to guard them from truths and keep them comfortable. (Islas 1990:107)
The first American-born generation considers their elders’ refusal to verbalize sexual affairs hypocritical. Eduviges, the mother of Serena and Josie, rejects even posthumous recognition of her brother’s desires, telling her daughters and Miguel Chico `”I don’t believe a word of it. There are no homosexuals” (p. 121). For the immigrant generation, specifically the matriarch Encarción Olmeca Angel (Mama Chona), denial of sexuality extended to hysterical refusal to attend to the body at all: “Mama Chona denied the existence of all parts of the body below the neck, with the exception of her hands” (p. 164) and ignored uterine problems that prove fatal. Miguel Chico took after her, partly from his father’s demand he not be coddled with doctors early on (1984:86) and later in delayed detection of intestinal cancer (requiring a colostomy). Despite the family name, Angel, and the wishes of several of the characters, they are not disembodied. Bodies and desires bring down “plaster gods.” Repression has a high price in both Islas’s novels.
Felix did not seek ongoing homosexual relationships. There is no evidence that his nephew Miguel Chico did either. Philandering is the nature of men in the view of the Angel women and jotos. In that Miguel Grande manages a long-running affair, male homosexual encounters appear to be more fleeting than heterosexual ones in these two novels. They also reinforce the view of gender deviance as a correlate or cause of homosexuality. Childhood effeminacy is recalled for both Felix and for Miguel Chico.
Serena has a woman’s “natural” nesting instinct. She and Meg had already been together for twelve years when Josie returned to Del Sapo. Although not a very fully realized character, Serena is given a stereotypical occupation and leisure habits: she is a physical education teacher whose interests outside work and la familia are bowling and drinking beer (1990:106). Her even shadowier Irish-American lover is noted for liking to play golf and to sleep (p. 107).
 At the end of The Rain God, Felix has become that chthonic spirit. At the end of Migrant Souls, the Catholic saint who is the patroness of his parish church is bidding Gabriel, the grandson of Mama Chona who became a priest, to dance.