We reconnect with Paul Lanner to discuss his amazing work with Haunters Against Hate and to celebrate his incredible win of Blurb’s Up in Lights contest back in April! He won for his book entitled The Book of Haunters Volume 9 and as his prize both he and his book were promoted on a digital billboard in Times Square! He was also flown up to New York City to see the billboard in person and given the opportunity to discuss his work with the folks at Blurb, an industry leader in the self-publishing field. Check out our own Kyle Jackson’s interview with him below and get reacquainted with Paul and his organization.
I don’t know about you, but I kinda wish there were more haunted attractions open year-round, and not just during Halloween season. To haunters or horror fans, this would be a dream. However, there is even one dream that’s bigger than that: To completely eradicate hate in our society. Because hate is the scariest thing of all!
Though it’s a big dream that sometimes seems impossible, standing up against hatred and bigotry is always possible. And that’s why Haunters Against Hate was created. Haunters (for those unfamiliar) is the term given to individuals and organizations who are passionate about and work in the haunted attraction industry. And, as many haunters are aware, there is a deep connection between horror fandom and queer identity. So, it makes sense that Haunters Against Hate (HAH) would want to do all they can to protect LGBTQ youth.
I had a chat with Paul Lanner, founder of Haunters Against Hate, to further discuss what they’re all about and how others can get involved.
Kyle Jackson: Can you tell us a bit about Haunters Against Hate, how it all came about and what it stands for/means?
Paul Lanner: Haunters Against Hate was formed after the Orlando Pulse tragedy when a haunt review team said, on social media, that “more fags should have been killed.” This prompted a backlash from haunt owners and Haunters Against Hate was created. It started as a simple statement banning these individuals from haunts, but I took it and wanted to turn that into something positive in the industry by promoting and protecting LGBTQ+ rights and advocacy.
KJ: There is a huge connection between LGBTQ culture and Horror/Occult/Goth culture. What does that connection mean to you, and do you think it’s had an effect on the success of Haunters Against Hate?
PL: Both cultures embrace the “out of the norm” (as it were) society, whether it be the LGBTQ+ community or the scary/spooky kids. Both seek out their own version of “family” and embrace it, so it only makes sense that both would overlap each other and embrace each other as well.
With HAH, the spooky kids in the industry have recognized that there is an organization within their community they can turn to and feel welcomed and embraced no matter who they are. As Fairuza Balk’s character says in the film The Craft, “We are the weirdos mister.” And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
KJ: Your Haunters Against Hate online store seemed to be very popular, particularly the T-shirts and books. Can you talk about some of the products offered and what they support?
PL: The t-shirts are very popular, from the simple ‘Because hate is the scariest thing of all’ ones to the movie homage ones, to the most recent “Drag Is Not a Crime” one (which ended up being the biggest selling shirt in HAH’s history).
As for the Book of Haunters, all volumes have sold out except for the current one, which is Volume 9 – Featuring female haunters in the industry! And has two introductions by Scream Queen Linnea Quigley and Judith O’Dea who played ‘Barbra’ in the original Night of the Living Dead.
These products help fund HAH and allow the organization to go to conventions/events/haunts across the U.S. promoting our mission, and also being able to donate to various LGBTQ organizations across the U.S., with a special focus on youth.
KJ: If you had to sum up Haunters Against Hates Mission/what the organization stands for in just three words, what would they be?
PL: Very simply: Helping LGBTQ Youth.
KJ: Is there another Haunters Against Hate event planned?
PL: There is NOT an HAH event in 2023, but it will return in 2024, date and place to be determined. That being said, HAH will be at Carolina Fear Fest in Raleigh in May, Midwest Haunters Convention in Chicago in June and Texas Haunters Convention in Dallas in July!
KJ: Can you tell us about the Haunters Against Hate Scholarship Award?
PL: The HAH Scholarship Award was introduced last year at the 2022 HAH event, but unfortunately we had no submissions! So, we are rolling it over to the 2024 event and it awards an LGBTQ+ student $2,000.00 to apply to their college tuition in the arts.
KJ: Who is eligible to become a Haunter Against Hate and what is the membership process for individuals and organizations who want to become involved?
PL: Anyone is welcome to become a member of Haunters Against Hate. It’s not JUST haunted attractions. HAH has DJs, authors, actors, and all types.
The membership is $150 for the year and your logo is put on the HAH website with a link to your site, 5 embroidered patches and a certificate of membership. This helps keep HAH functioning as well. Just go to tinyurl.com/HAHmembership.