Did paranormal investigator Gerry’s childhood near-death experience imbue him with a sensitivity to the spirit world and hauntings that set him apart from the more conventionally masculine men in his Michigan family? What does ghost hunting have to do with machismo, anyway?

Episode Summary

There are haunted houses. And then there are very haunted houses. Houses where something almost always happens in the middle of the night, or the middle of the day. Houses where the spirits are extra restless and extra active, and the dead outnumber the living.

Today, we speak with Reverend Gerald Hunter, author and paranormal investigator, who’s incredibly haunted childhood home shaped his entire career. Would you have been able to sleep in the haunted Michigan house he grew up in? Listen and decide, today, on Homespun Haints.

AI-generated transcript of this episode available upon request.

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About the Guest, Rev. Gerald Hunter

Gerry is from Brooklyn, Michigan, which is the scaphoid bone in relation to the mitten, a description I’m aware helps just about nobody. Including postal workers, who kept delivering his mail to New York. He has seen some wild hauntings and spirited spirits around the Midwest!

He is retired from ministry, and now works aboard the incredibly haunted USS Edson on the Saginaw River in Bay City, MI. Gerry has published 3 books about his encounters, including Haunted Michigan, More Haunted Michigan, and Haunted Michigan 3: The Haunting Continues… all available on Amazon. Someday soon his fourth book, Confessions of a Ghost Hunter, is coming out! Keep updated by following him on Facebook.

Masculinity and Paranormal Investigation

Is believing in ghosts contrary to machismo?

Gerry identifies wistfully as the least macho of all the men in his family, despite his best efforts. He chose the path of ministry, while all the other brothers followed their father into law enforcement. He’s also the only brother who seeks out ghostly encounters, as opposed to avoiding or denying them.

The theme of machismo comes up multiple times in his stories. He cited one manly friend who flew into a rage to deal with a ghost playfully taunting him with a towel. His father refused to believe when the boys talked about seeing ghosts. Conversely, his mother talked of her own ghostly experiences somewhat openly. His brother refused to stick around to witness any hauntings, despite denying belief.

What is it about ghosts, hauntings, and spirit communications that brings ones masculinity into question? Is it more masculine to bravely interact with the paranormal, or to eschew all participation therein? And what does it mean when masculinity and paranormal investigation combine?

Masculine ways to interact with spirits

There are many ways to be masculine. We think positive masculinity is embodied in qualities like providing fatherly guidance and protection to one’s wards, gallantly defending those who have less power or advantage than oneself, bravely accomplishing the intimidating, confidently taking action based on rational reasoning, and feats of physical strength and endurance.

  • Our guest Kerry Blu attempted to create a safe space for the ghost who shared his apartment during COVID-19 quarantine.
  • Our guest Daryl Marsten volunteered to take the more frightening lodgings at the haunted cabins.
  • In one episode, Becky breaks down gender stereotypes in the male-dominated field of paranormal investigation reality television.

Let’s approach this rationally

Gerry tells us that his favorite way to conduct a paranormal investigation is to attempt to disprove everything. In other words, attempt to find evidence of a non-supernatural explanation for seemingly supernatural occurrences. This does seem to fit in with the spirit of scientific investigation. It also reinforces that skepticism does not equal disbelief.

There is both more courage and more rationality required for skepticism than for disbelief. To be skeptical is to embrace the vulnerable position that what you are hearing might be wrong, or what you personally believe to be true might be wrong. Skeptics must have the fortitude to investigate with an open mind until they have enough objective reasons to rationally form a opinion.

But was it a ghost?

Most people use heuristics to accept or reject ideas from within an established worldview, instead of attempting to re-evaluate their belief in various types of paranormal entities every time they find themselves confronted by a new strange occurrence. That’s why paranormal investigators focus on obtaining as much evidence as they can, with the goal of ruling out a mundane cause for a seemingly paranormal event, instead of focusing on proving “it was a ghost.” In other words, it’s quite possible to be a paranormal investigator who doesn’t believe in ghosts, since you’re merely attempting to answer questions like “is this occurrence explicable by any rationale other than the paranormal?” in most cases. When the answer is “no,” it’s not necessary to then jump to the conclusion “it was a ghost.”

Of course, paranormal investigation evidence is extra scrumptious when it is corroborated with something relevant to ghosts and hauntings. We might not have the patience to go looking for EVPs all night, but it still makes our spirit senses tingle with joy when we hear an EVP that mentions the name of an actual person who has died in the purportedly haunted house where the recording was captured. These synchronicities can be pleasurable to the believer, or upsetting to the disbeliever. But to the skeptic, they may just be more data points to consider on the long, winding path to the truth.

A scary paranormal investigation of a Michigan haunted hotel

After this interview, Gerry told us about another paranormal investigation he performed at the haunted South Lyon Hotel in South Lyon, Michigan. One of the employees had recently quit, because of the encounters she had with one of the hotel’s ghosts. She reluctantly agreed to attend the investigation on the condition that the team would never would be more than 6 feet away from her as she walked them through the eatery. 

At one point, she shouted, “He’s here,” and went into a panic. She hollered “what do you want?” and was thrown against the cooler wall. She started crying, and said her back burned. One of the investigators helped lift her shirt, revealing the backwards word “YOU” scratched into her back, deep enough to break the skin. They dabbed away the blood before taking this photo.

paranormal investigation leads to strange scratches on woman's back
I guess at least we know what he wanted, but yikes!

Have a spooky day!