TK Strand, 9-1-1: Lone Star
Credit: FOX Image Collection via Getty I

As one half of Tarlos on 9-1-1: Lone Star, T.K. Strand has become one of television’s most beloved queer characters. While the actor who plays him, Ronen Rubinstein, isn’t gay in real life, he is bisexual and relates to Tarlos in his own way.

9-1-1: Lone Star is FOX’s procedural drama the personal and professional lives of firefighters, paramedics, police officers, dispatchers and other first responders in Austin, Texas. The series — which premiered in 2020 and was created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear (the same creators behind shows like Glee and American Horror Story) — is a spin-off of 9-1-1, which is set in Los Angeles, California. Rubinstein plays Tyler Kennedy “T.K.” Strand, a former firefighter with Station 126 who becomes a paramedic in Season 2. T.K. is also the son of station 126’s Captain Owen Strand and a recovering opioid addict who overdosed just before coming to Austin. He stars dating police officer Carlos Reyes in Season 1 and the couple get engaged in Season 3. The couple has since been nicknamed Tarlos by fans.

“From the story perspective, it’s a really beautiful and well-paced relationship,” Rubinstein told Entertainment Tonight Canada about Tarlos. “I am glad that they didn’t give the fans everything immediately and let them breathe and have some space to evolve. We’ve obviously seen the ups and downs of T.K. and Carlos. It feels really realistic, authentic and refreshing.”

Rubinstein also joked about T.K. and Carlos’ many sex scenes. “For some reason in my career, they like to throw me in intimate scenes, and they enjoy undressing me,” he said. “It’s not really new to me. As long as you treat it with respect and are not immature about it, at the end of the day, you are working. I don’t mind them. I’ve been doing them pretty much since my first gig.”

Is Ronen Rubinstein gay in real life from 9-1-1: Lone star?

TK Strand, 9-1-1: Lone Star

Is Ronen Rubinstein gay in real life like his 9-1-1: Lone Star character, T.K. Strand? Rubinstein — who has played T.K. since Season 1 of 9-1-1: Lone Star — is openly bisexual. He came out publicly in an interview with Variety in April 2021. “I fully identify as bisexual,” he said. “I literally just got goosebumps saying that. It feels so good to talk about it, it feels so good to finally be comfortable with it.”

During the interview, Rubinstein — who described his relationship with his sexuality as a “journey” — revealed that he was nervous about what his conservative friends and family from his hometown of Staten Island, New York, would think about T.K. and Carlos’ first sex scene. “Carlos and I have a huge make-out scene where we, like, burst through the door, and we’re ripping our clothes off,” he said. “It’s super hot and it just goes on. It just doesn’t stop. We’re, like, crashing against the walls, and then we end up on the couch. I warned my parents and my friends for months. I said, ‘Listen, I understand if you guys don’t want to watch it, I understand you probably might say some really ignorant, close-minded stuff or you just might not want to watch it and I get that too.’”

He continued, “The biggest thing for me is where I come from, it’s like people like me and people who have identified as bisexual or gay or as any part of the community, you’re just not welcomed. It’s as brutally honest as that. It’s either you faced insane amounts of profanity, like the F-word was thrown around all the time or you would get your ass kicked if you were gay. So there was definitely a fear of sort of embracing how I felt. I was definitely more aware of it in high school. I was aware of my feelings and how I started looking at men, but I couldn’t talk to anybody about it.”

Before he came out publicly, Rubinstein revealed that he first discussed the decision with three people: Rafael Silva, who plays T.K.’s love interest Carlos; Ryan Murphy, the creator of the 9-1-1 franchise; and his now-wife, Jessica Parker Kennedy. “She’s actually one of the first people that sort of respectfully called me out on it,” he said of Kennedy. “She’s like, ‘Is there something we need to talk about?’ And I said, ‘Maybe.’ I didn’t know how that conversation would go. And it went probably as good as it can go. She definitely encouraged me to be vocal about it, just to live my truth. She’s like, ‘I love you for who you are, your full self and people will love you for who you are and your full self.’” He continued, “She just sometimes jokes, ‘Just don’t leave me for Harry Styles.'”

Rubinstein also told Variety that he was inspired to come out publicly because of Tarlos fans. “The fans, especially the Tarlos fans, it’s one of the biggest reasons that I finally felt safe and comfortable to talk about it and to finally embrace it and be happy about it,” he said. He added, “I want people to know that this is a hopeful and a happy story. I want people to know that they’re not alone and it’s definitely OK. Trust me, I know that it is not easy. My path has not been easy at all, but it’s just one more thing that I can share with people to help them and let them know that I’m here for them.”

In an interview with Hello, Rubinstein and Kennedy also opened up about how his bisexuality strengthened their relationship. “Really early on in our relationship Ronen would make comments when we would watch actors, and it then became a bigger conversation of, ‘What am I?’ Not everything needs a title but at the same time there is something empowering about being able to ‘know thyself,'” Kennedy said. “I also wanted to make sure he felt like he could talk about it confidently and openly, certainly with me first and foremost for our relationship.”

Rubinstein also confirmed that he didn’t fully realize he was bisexual until after he started dating Kennedy. “Bisexuality was a newer term for me. Growing up the way I did, I didn’t hear that word. Friends would have literally kicked my a— if I had said anything,” he said. “I spend every day of my life with Jess so [her confidence in us was] reassuring because I’ve heard countless stories where coming out actually ends relationships.” He continued, “There’s still so much prejudice against bisexual men, especially bisexual men that are in committed relationships with a female. I think we are a beautiful example of a strong, solid, confident relationship, and it shows people this is actually possible. There’s not that many public examples of this type of relationship and it’s an example of something that should be shown in a positive and beautiful light.”

Kenendy also called Rubinstein’s coming out journey the “best” for their relationship. “It was the best for us; it’s so much fun. Ronen is my best friend and it’s fun talking about boys with my husband,” she said. “That’s not for everybody but for us it’s very fun. My whole goal is making sure Ronen felt safe in our relationship to be able to express himself in the way that he felt the most comfortable with and the way that he identified. She continued, “The only thing I was ever concerned about with Ronen going public was if people were going to be awful because he was with a female. We both had to say, ‘You’re bisexual. It is either or.’ But people have been amazing.”

Rubinstein added, “When I say best fans in the world, like, I mean it. I only expect amazing stuff from this marriage announcement.”

Who is Ronen Rubinstein’s wife?

Ronen Rubinstein, Jessica Parker Kennedy

Who is Ronen Rubinstein’s wife? Rubinstein and actress Jessica Parker Kennedy married on August 14, 2022 in a small, traditional Jewish wedding on a family farm in Calgary, Canada attended by only 30 guests. The couple announced announced the news in an interview with Hello in November 2022, which reported that the wedding was attending by only 30 guests and was held two months after Ruinstein proposed to Kennedy in Portofino, Italy, in June 2022.

“There is a very famous hotel in Portofino where they shot La Dolce Vita, it’s one of the most historic, most beautiful hotels, and I thought, ‘What better place to propose to the love of my life than this place?’” Rubinstein told Hello of the proposal. “We went to the famous pool restaurant which I had rented out with one table decorated with candles and roses.” Kennedy added, “I was like, ‘Look, someone did a special table for somebody, that’s so nice!’”

Rubinstein continued, “Then I had to look over and say, ‘That’s where we’re sitting.’ She was completely shocked. The champagne came out and within two minutes I knew I couldn’t wait any longer. I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long. I immediately got down on one knee and I could barely squeak out the first couple of words and I just started hysterically crying.”

Kennedy also explained how the couple decided to have their wedding on a farm in Canada. “We wanted to be married so badly and we didn’t really know when, how, where and why and in the end we planned it really quickly,” she said. “My cousin has lots of acres of land just outside of Calgary with horses and cows and it’s a gorgeous property, and he was very kind and he said yes when I asked him if we could get married there.”

For their outfits, Kennedy revealed that she wore a dress from Macy’s, while Rubinstein dressed himself. “The dress was really an afterthought; I actually got it at Macy’s,” she said. “It didn’t have a price tag on, it just happened to be my size and I really love the 3D trend and my dress has these leaves and it was very whimsy — and we love whimsical things — so I bought it, and it definitely matched that farm chic vibe.” Rubinstein added, “And you looked like an angel. I wore Double RL and Purple Label Ralph Lauren, and I dressed myself.”

Rubinstein also revealed his first reaction when he saw Kennedy walking down the aisle. “I just started crying and lost control. I was such a mess that day. One of Jessica’s best friends played an Elvis song on the violin as Jess was walking down the aisle and all of our family were there, and it was just beautiful.” he said. “Jess’ other best friend and her husband also built our chuppah which we stood under so the whole day was so personal and came from everybody’s heart and soul. I love how intimate it was. It was a magical day.” Kennedy added, “Ronen really was inconsolable the entire time.” Rubinstein continued, “I could barely get through my vows. I was a hot mess.”

As for children, the couple told Hello that they’ve “always” wanted to be parents. “I’m 38 so they call my eggs ‘geriatric’ which is crazy. They use horrible words to terrify you! But it was one of the first things Ronen said to me; I met him when he had just turned 23 and he kept talking about being a dad, which is very unusual for someone who is 23!” Kennedy said. Rubinstein added, “It would be a wonderful thing to be able to do, however and whenever it happens. I have always wanted to be a dad – ever since I was in high school, I always knew I wanted to be a dad.”

Like Rubinstein, Kennedy is also an actor. She’s starred in shows like The Flash, Supergirl, Black Sails, 90210, The Secret Circle and Smallville, as well as movies like Another Cinderella Story and Santa Baby.

9-1-1: Lone Star airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on FOX.

For more on 9-1-1, check out the gallery below to see the 9-1-1 cast salaries per episode, from Angela Bassett to Oliver Stark!