The field of psychology can do more than help suffering individuals function better in society. Psychologists can also work to alter the societies in which individuals are struggling to function in the first place. This is especially true when practicing psychology in conditions of sociopolitical oppression.
Liberation Psychology is a subset of psychology that calls for psychologists to avoid remaining neutral in the face of injustice, and instead position our work as an explicit form of political resistance and liberation for those who are oppressed. Liberation psychologists seek to “illuminate the links between an individual’s psychological suffering and the social, economic and political contexts in which he or she lives” (Watkins & Shulman, 2008). We collaborate with members of marginalized communities to raise critical consciousness of the psychological effects of sociopolitical oppression, to resist social injustice, and to pursue avenues for social change. Thus psychology is harnessed as a “force for transformation rather than for conformity to status quo cultural arrangements that contribute to injustice, poverty, violence, and war” (Watkins & Shulman, 2008).
One method that liberation psychologists use to facilitate critical consciousness is emancipatory art. Art helps make visible the personal experiences of sociopolitical oppression that society often renders invisible. This arts-based research project illuminates the psychic distress caused by the LGBTQ closet in heteronormative societies. By creating this short film and website, this project seeks to contribute psychological insight to help shape LGBTQ human rights and public policies.