Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ken Summers, Paranormal Investigator

First a huge welcome. When I wrote about Brandon Keats, a gay paranormal investigator, I hadn't found Ken's Blog, Spooked! and his Queer Paranormal Road Trips. I have a slew of questions for him so we'll dive right in.

Do you believe in ghosts?
Yes, but I can understand that skepticism is a necessity in this inexact science. I have experienced things I cannot explain, which have brought me to the conclusion that something must exist beyond our known natural world. Of course, this doesn't mean I believe every ghost story I hear. There are plenty of fictional tales circulating out there. Some people have said that I “walk the fine line between believer and skeptic” very carefully.
How long have you been investigating ghosts?
I started researching my first true ghost story at the age of 13 in my spare time. When I received my driver's license at 16, I began to visit places rumored to be haunted. I have been investigating and/or researching ghosts since 1995, so for about 13 years now.

How do you find ghosts and haunted places?
Quite simple: I observe everything. Ghosts are literally everywhere: in every culture and every corner of the world. Books and websites are a fount of useful information, and almost everyone you meet could be holding an interesting personal account. Any place can be a prime candidate for a haunting, even if there is no activity or known legend. Never limit yourself. An interesting or unknown specter could be sitting right under your nose, waiting for someone to notice him or her.

When you're working on a solo investigation, what sort of equipment do you usually take? And can you explain their use for us?
Unlike many investigators, I travel light. A camcorder, tape recorder, camera, notebook, and flashlight are usually enough. I go to some remote places where electricity isn’t available and the terrain can be treacherous if you’re bogged down by too many gadgets. I find EMF meters, often used to detect ghosts, to be unreliable so I avoid them. I try to document video, photographic, and audio evidence with every-day devices. Nothing special. And the notebook… well, let’s face it: no one has a perfect memory.

When and why did you decide to combine your experience as a gay man and a paranormal investigator?
Often, it’s difficult to separate being gay from life. It becomes an issue for many people. I’ve never felt ashamed of being who I am, and I’ve been honest with people who have asked me about my personal life. Being a paranormal investigator doesn’t turn off the other aspects of myself. Still, I spent many years feeling like I was the only gay ghost hunter. But over time, I’ve found others who thought the same thing. So, why not blend the two? Often, ghosts are feared or isolated because they are different. Isn’t it the same case with gay men and lesbians in our society?

Can you tell us a little about P.R.O.U.D.?
(Paranormal Researchers Out and United in Diversity)
I contemplated forming a gay paranormal organization a decade ago, but didn’t really know anyone else like myself. It wasn’t until talking with my friend Buck that he brought up the idea to me again. We didn’t do anything with it until one day I decided to just create a networking site and see what happened with it. It’s relatively new, so I’m waiting to see what will happen to it. At least it might be something interesting for those wondering if they’re all alone out there.

What are your future plans regarding gay paranormal investigations?
Ideally, I’d like to change gears from Ohio ghosts to gay ghosts and investigate these cases permanently. I am seeking a publisher for a book regarding gay ghosts and haunted places, and I’m feeling rather optimistic about a few possibilities. Who knows where else it could lead? I’m open to anything. A documentary. A television series. I’m not in it for the fame… I’m just deeply intrigued.

Anything else you'd like to share with us today?
Well, I am always on the hunt for tales of GLBT ghosts and haunted places that happen to be GLBT owned or operated. Anyone who wishes to can always drop me an email, even if they have questions. People might be surprised that I’ve found quite a few locations already, and I know there must be more. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt passionate about something like this. Oh… and if anyone knows ANYTHING about a supposedly haunted gay bar in Geneva, Switzerland, I’m all ears!

Ken, thanks so much for visiting The Sweet Flag.
Please feel free to post if you have any questions or comments for Ken.


Ken said...

A little free press goes a long way... LOL

If you ever care to have me be your guest on here again, just let me know! I'm a fount of useless information! I'll fix my blog post too and add the link, since I forgot. Tomorrow, things should start to slowly return to normal...

T.A.Chase said...

Thanks so much for talking about such an interesting topic, Ken and Jeanne for asking the questions.

What is your favorite ghost story or 'hunt'? Do you have one that was particularly scary?

TA Chase

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Ken, absolutely fascinating. I'm a big fan of Coast-to-Coastam with George Noory, late night talk radio. And he frequently has guests on talking about ghosts.
Have you ever contacted their producers? There's a place/button on the website for submitting yourself as a guest.
Also, there's a publishing company doing a series of books on phenomena in the various states, like Wisconsin -- I forget how they title them.
Do you ever communicate with the ghosts? Or encourage them to cross over?

Savanna Kougar said...

Just wanted an e-mail follow up!
Thanks for blogging, Ken

Melinda Barron said...

I love good ghost stories. It's fascinating to read about someone who searches for them. Do you have a favorite ghost story, or one that just really would send chills up our spines? Those are the best! Thanks for the blog post. I really enjoyed it!

Ken said...

Thanks, everyone! Here goes nothing:

T.A.: I've always been partial to lonesome lock here in northeastern Ohio. A woman was murdered there in the mid-1800s and I've caught her voice on tape a few times. It's not far from where I saw my first apparition, walking off the railroad tracks and disappearing into thin air. As far as gay ghosts, Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams at Cafe LaFitte in Exile in NOLA is my fav. I've been scared more times than I'd care to admit... sometimes by nature!

Savanna: I've never talked to them, but I've considered it. I've done a few internet radio shows and local network news bits. For now, I'm waiting on what happens with the book proposal. I've never "communicated", per say, but I've heard them, seen them, and received a few mental impressions. I don't believe in crossing ghosts over. It's against my moral beliefs. if they want to stay, I say let them stay if they're not bothering anyone. I don't believe I have the right to ask anyone to leave what they see as their "place". (I'll email you too...)

Melinda: favorite chilling ghost tale. Hmm. I'll have to refer back to Lonesome Lock on that one. The woman was attacked by a highwayman. Her head was severed from her body and thrown into the canal. Ever since, travelers were terrified of the place. her headless ghost in a white dress was said to wander the lock. I've seen her murderer too... always a black shadow of a man in a hat. He gives me the creeps...

Nina Pierce said...

Jeanne and Ken thanks for the wonderful interview.

windycindy said...

I love the paranormal. I watch every television show there is about the subject! I also like a few mediums. I really enjoyed reading your interview. Thanks,Cindi