Illuminateis a phenomenological short film that evokes the lived experience of being in the LGBTQ closet via sensual, poetic cinematography.  This film presents the research findings of my doctoral dissertation in clinical psychology, for which I developed a qualitative research method called “cinematic-phenomenology” which disseminates phenomenological research as poetic cinematography.  I conducted interviews with five research participants about their lived experiences of being closeted about their sexual orientation. Then, I collaborated with artists to produce a short film which illustrates participants’ lived experiences of the closet via poetic cinematography. All imagery featured in this film is derived from research participants’ descriptions of what being closeted felt like for them personally.  “illuminate” seeks 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.

Please view for more information about the filmmaking process, as well as my main research findings about the sociopolitical trauma of the closet.

Directed by Nisha Gupta. Cinematography by Joseph Carreno and Nisha Gupta. Starring Orlando Davis. Music by Lesley Flanigan.

A Phenomenological Film Collective Production.

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

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 special effects,” “Best soundtrack”


Movie trailer: