Date of Award

Spring 2015

Project Type


Program or Major

Liberal Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Jaume Marti-Olivella

Second Advisor

Delia Konzett

Third Advisor

Catherine Peebles


The purpose of this thesis is to flesh out an understanding of the lived experience of the homosexual closet and ultimately how it is portrayed in film. It uses film, however, as a snapshot of potential realities that reflect the gay individual in society.

It relies heavily on the social theories and work of Edward T. Hall, Erving Goffman, Albert E. Scheflen, Judith Butler, and Gerschen Kaufman, among others, to build a framework for understanding the closet on both a macro and micro scale. It does not attempt to isolate the homosexual but rather to situate him or her within a milieu where established cultural norms and key social constituents all play an active role in establishing the parameters that govern the gay closet and impose it upon the homosexual. Ultimately, it asks the question of how is the closet dismantled and the closet-promoting stigma removed.

Illustratively, it turns to the poem “Two Loves,” as well as the films Doña Herlinda y su Hijo, Edge of Seventeen, and Juste un question d’amour, as a means of rendering visible the complicated affective dynamics of the closet. The international nature of the selections aids in universalizing the dilemma of the closet such that it avoids being able to scapegoat the other; rather, it underscores the global reality of the closet as an abusive imposition of heteronormativity with which human kind is grappling globally. In the end, it posits that the right to the pursuit of happiness is only checked via the closeting of all involved.