“illuminate” is a phenomenological short film that evokes the lived experience of being in the LGBTQ closet via sensual, poetic cinematography.  This film presents the main research findings of a cinematic-phenomenological research study featuring in-depth interviews with research participants about their lived experiences of being closeted as sexual minorities. All imagery in the film is derived from research participants’ descriptions of what being in the closet felt like for them personally. Research findings suggest that the closet is experienced as a traumatic loss of existential rights: the right to truth, freedom, love, hope, and power. “illuminate” uses symbolic cinematography to make visible the invisible psychic pain that the closet incites, to inspire LGBTQ people to keep fighting for our existential rights, and to instill compassion and hope among viewers.

Directed by Nisha Gupta. Starring Orlando Davis (lead), L.H. Gonzalez, Monisha Schwartz, Isaiah Noreiga, Lee Lytle, Jacob Wasson, Mary-Beth Grimaldi, Matt Rich, and Hakim Fontaine. Cinematography by Joseph Carreno and Nisha Gupta. Music by Lesley Flanigan. A Phenomenological Film Collective production.

PRESS ABOUT FILM: “We are moving stories” interview and “Art with Impact” interview

Scholarly article about procedures and research findings of study: Published in Qualitative Research in Psychology (2020): “Illuminating the trauma of the LGBTQ closet: A cinematic-phenomenological study and film about existential rights”

Recipient of the APA Division 5 2020 Dissertation Award in Qualitative Inquiry

Selected as award winner in the documentary genre of the 2018 Colorado International Activism Film Festival: “Most artistic,” “Best soundtrack,” and “Best special effects.”

Film trailer: