My history as a part of the LGBTQ community is a fairly brief one, as I’ve only been out since early 2015, but my history with the quirky, yet camaraderie-driven ghost hunting culture goes back a few more years than that. When I was in high school, Ghost Adventures spent the night at a closed down insane asylum near my hometown, and they live-streamed their hunt for an entire 24 hours. Fast forward a few years to 2012 when I went to Gettysburg with some friends and went on a guided ghost hunt, and I’m talking EMF sensors, my own set of dowsing rods and everything. I spent about six hours fully immersed in the ghost hunting environment, with a personalized CD to take home that included my EMF recordings.
Although I have a strong sense of spirituality and belief in certain levels of the supernatural, after these multiple ventures into the realm of ghost hunting, I’m not certain this endeavor particularly resonates with me — although I’m about 90 percent sure one of the entities said my name. I have proof. I can send you my CD if you don’t believe it. However, as a new member of the LGBT community, the historical element of Queer Ghost Hunters is what drew me in.
Queer Ghost Hunters is a web series funded by Kickstarter that premiered on Saturday, October 1st, with recurring new episodes to be realized every Saturday through the month of October to celebrate both the Halloween season and LGBT History Month. The web series was created by Stu Maddux and follows a group of people as they travel around to various possible hot spots and uncover the history of the queer community presence in each location, followed by attempts to communicate with the spirits. The cast consists of Scott Priddy, Kathy Detrow, Lori Gum, Liam Gallagher, Kai Stone, Shane McClelland, who are all equally as passionate and enthusiastic about this project. I reached out to the Team Leader, Lori Gum, and asked her what location was her favorite to explore. She responded with the following:
“I would have to say that actually the Toledo convent we visit in the first episode is one of my very favorites. Convents are generally off the beaten path for most traditional ghosthunters…. so it gave us a very fresh, unique and fascinating venue and community of women historically to investigate. There is a whole different feeling in a convent than might be in a prison or an insane-asylum and we sensed the feeling of ‘chosen family’ and ‘community’ right away. It was an extraordinary place and an extraordinary group of women who once lived there… and loved there. And as a lesbian… it was SO nice to try and connect with lesbians of the past that have come before me. And we did indeed connect!”
The first episode Lori references is titled “Lesbian Nun Ghosts!” and follows the group to a convent in Toledo, where they stop at the cemetery to reach out to the former nuns and invite them to continue on with crew to the convent to communicate further. With a run time clocking in at just over nine minutes, the first episode can be watched during a quick break in your busy day, and everyone at Queer Ghost Hunters manages to pack plenty of opportunities to both laugh and learn.
If you have heard of this web series already, it’s likely because of the clever video marketing strategy they’ve been using on YouTube during the weeks leading up to the premiere. Some of the videos are teaser clips of the series, introductions to various cast members, and explanations of several of the devices used in the ghost hunting process. These extra are worth the watch to gather some insight into the making of the show and to get to know the characters on a more intimate level.
The dedication and passion these cast members each possess over what they do is apparent immediately, but for viewers who might have a lack of interest in the topic at hand, you’ll be happy to know that Queer Ghost Hunters has much more to offer. The humor is effortless, each cast member showcasing an organic, effortless rapport with the next. Lori and the rest of her team dish up a quirky, tongue-in-cheek brand of comedy, relying on their self awareness and offbeat, tight knit dynamic to elicit laughs, all while educating the audience along the way.
This group digs deep into the lore and history of each place they visit, eager to understand the journey of the location as well as the people who were part of it, and this is the element that makes this web series so incredibly important. In the premiere episode, they discuss the history and movement of a time period when women would gravitate toward the convent when their culture wouldn’t accept them for who they were and loved. What better place to create a family of your own that a convent, where you spend every hour of every day with other women and aren’t specifically required to not marry a man?
As Lori stated, sometimes, and particularly in the case of the LGBTQ community, the most important family is the one we create for ourselves. The members of Queer Ghost Hunters have created their own family, and through their series they’ve graciously decided to share it with all of us.