A lot has changed since moonspenders.com went live in October of 2002. Even before then. (This site started as an AOL Hometown page back in 1998.) And if you’re a returning visitor, you’ve probably noticed some major changes this summer as well. While it may seem like an abrupt departure from its origins, the reality is that this overhaul is a long overdue culmination of the evolution of its creator.
My late teens were spent delving into local hauntings, uncovering forgotten ghostly legends throughout the Cuyahoga Valley with countless friends and fellow paranormal investigators. Over the past 20 years, though, my own personal interest in these stories became stagnant and stale. The valley changed from a peaceful place of solace to both a popular tourist attraction and my own workplace. Retelling the same stories thousands of times became more of a chore and less of an observational study and research project. I had grown up and changed as a person, yet my focus and site remained essentially the same.
When I began investigating hauntings in the late 1990s, I was timidly open about my sexuality to many others in the paranormal field. It was a different climate with different perceptions and attitudes. Long before gay marriage became an achievable goal, I had one burning question: Where were the stories of gay ghosts? Surely, with all the LGBTQ+ historical figures over centuries of civilization, there must be some out there. Yet I made the conscious decision to keep my sexuality and interests in LGBTQ+ history separate from my public paranormal research (with a few small exceptions, such as it being briefly mentioned in an interview for Cleveland’s Scene Magazine in November 2003). But all that started to change in 2005 as I began to unearth some stories of hauntings with queer specters involved.
Leading up to the publishing of Queer Hauntings, my interest in local ghost waned as my curiosity toward queer spooks blossomed. Researching these new stories invigorated me while rehashing the old stories felt as if it weighed me down, trapping me in the same rural Ohio I was so desperate to escape—a place where closets were meant to hide more than just clothes and skeletons. By becoming typecast as a regional paranormal investigator, I was burying a large part of myself behind a persona or facade and holding my strongest passions hostage (and spending hundreds of dollars annually on maintaining this site, rarely mustering the energy to update it).
Now, this site is an accurate representation and reflection of who I am today. While I do occasionally visit the valley in search of paranormal activity, it’s purely for my own recreational amusement. Whenever I’m in the valley at a haunted place and someone tells me they’ve heard stories of it being haunted, I realize that I’ve left a lasting legacy on the national park. I’ve revealed a darker, weirder side of its history and natural splendor that won’t easily be forgotten. I’ve given a voice to the unquiet dead who’ve met with foul play or suicide in picturesque surroundings. Yet in the process, I’ve helped make the valley a popular ghosthunting location. And popularity is not my style.
Will anyone be disappointed in these chances? Without a doubt. The few times I’ve tried to make such radical changes in the past, I’ve been bombarded with emails from people wanting the site to focus on Cuyahoga Valley ghosts again. I’ve always given in to those voices, but this time, my changes are here to stay. In the immortal words of Gloria Gaynor, “I am what I am, and what I am needs no excuses…“