POST: 'Southern Comfort' - people actually treat others like this

What's it about?

Southern Comfort follows the true story of Robert Eads, a transgendered man who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and denied treatment by many southern doctors, and is living out his days with his chosen family.

What'd you experience?

Right off the bat, I have to say that the set was awesome. There was this giant tree in the middle, a small yard, and a little porch, and that was it. It sounds kind of basic, but the tree had all of these portraits and photos on it, and the branches were intertwined with bike parts, car parts, and other mechanical pieces. On top of that there were 3 rows of seats on all sides of the set that were made of regular lawn chairs, metal chairs, and even torn out truck seats (yeah I was jealous that I didn't get one of those). It felt really comforting, and add on the live country band in the corner and I felt very welcome, which I guess suits the theme of the show.

The show itself was kind of hard to explain emotionally, and the fact that the whole thing is a true story makes it all the more hard to swallow. Like I actually pulled one of these sitting in my seat. During almost every aspect of it, I was tense and it felt depressing, but at the same time it was all weirdly hopeful. The lead character, Robert, was transgender and the only remaining female part of him was his ovaries, which eventually are the cause of the cancer that is taking his life. That right there is such terribly dark irony, the one remaining part of what you wanted to change about yourself ends up being the thing that kills you. And because of the nature and intensity of the cancer and who he is - doctors did not want to treat him. So, he was forced to face the inevitability of his death.

But weirdly, he was the one who was most comfortable with it. He would make jokes like "I'm literally dying over here." He would casually talk about how he might not make it to next year, and when anyone else would get sad about it he would just ask what their problem was. Which I guess is a good outlook to have on the situation, but at the same time it could be a little harmful. I feel like it's good to have that sort of reality about it, but if it makes all of your loved ones uncomfortable then it shouldn't be something you show off to that extent. Help them cope the way they need to as they help you cope the way you need to, if that makes any sense.

Another big theme of the show was being true to who you really are and not being ashamed of it. One of the ways they showed it in this was something that I really liked, which was the fact that you can have your family, and then you can have your chosen family. In the show almost everyone was disowned or exiled by their families because of their choice to switch genders, but they found comfort in the company of each other. I feel like this is something a lot of people can relate to.  Everyone has members of their family they may not like, and some people's families just might not get along at all. But we do have those people in our lives that we love to be around, ones that we go to for everything, ones that we spend more time with than we do with our real families (I'm not even sure if "real families" is the correct phrase here, because who's to say your chosen family isn't your real family). And in that you are being true to yourself. You don't have to force yourself to like or get along with your family, but can choose to be with and around the people you actually want to. I don't even have problems with my family and I still have my chosen family, hell we even have matching tattoos.

One thing I noticed during this show was that I was spacing out a lot (which is why I'm a little foggy on  everyone's names in the show, that and I'm just terrible with names to begin with). And I don't mean that as a bad thing, it was actually a really positive thing. It was just so thought provoking to me, I kept finding myself thinking "wow, people will actually treat someone like this just because of their decisions in life." Like a family will have no problem disowning their child and lying about their existence. Or a doctor will gladly leave someone to die just because they don't agree with their lifestyle. All they are trying to do is find their happiness and be who they really are, and they are so persecuted for it.

It was really depressing to know that is the reality of the situation, and not some made up story with a lesson. This man and his friends all had to deal with such relentless hatred towards them, yet they were still so hopeful. As a straight white guy prejudice isn't really something I experience first-hand, but stories like these and experiences I've seen and heard about with friends are always a huge reality check for me. I could have rough patches in my life and whatnot, but some people have it rough right off the bat, all because of the ignorance and prejudice of a disturbingly large group of people. And I never really understood what the problem is anyway. Everyone has their stuff they have to deal with and their struggles they have to go through, so why make it even harder on another just because they are different from you? It's just aggravating, and now I feel like I'm ranting, so I'm just gonna leave on this; don't be an ass, there's no reason for it.


 

Want to see it?

$20 General Rush
$25 Student Tickets

Southern Comfort
Public Theater
thru Mar. 27