“Haunters” Build Community Out Of Tragedy: Louisville vent July 30-Aug. 1

by Sarah Gardiner

Louisville is host to the very first convention celebrating Pride within the haunter and horror fandoms. Haunts Against Hate: The Event will be taking over the Crown Plaza Hotel from Today through August 1st for a weekend of scares in a safe and inclusive environment.

Founder Paul Lanner has high hopes for the event, in part due to the incredible support he has seen from both the LGBT community and the haunters—a group made up of horror enthusiasts, haunted amusement actors and designers, and fans of fear—who he hopes to bring together under one umbrella for a weekend. Though haunters have always been a largely accepting group, Haunters Against Hate was initially created as a reaction an a horrifying incident of homophobia in the horror circles.

In the aftermath of the Pulse Nightclub Shooting, while the world was rallying support for the queer community, many—including Lanner—were shocked to see a small number of their own turn to social media to spread hate, make jokes, and mock the tragedy. For queer haunters, this was an immediate call to action to make sure that there was a space for LGBT members to feel safe and accepted. A collective got together, took action to demand ties be cut with those who were sharing the comments, and Haunters Against Hate was born.

“Because hate is the scariest thing of all.”

While this is the first in what the organization hopes to become an annual event, H.A.H. has been working toward the convention for years.  What started out as a collaborative open letter soon grew into a series of merchandise, pop-up events, and an online community dedicated to ensuring a safe space for queer haunters. The response was overwhelming and, over the past five years, they have raised over $30,000 for LGBT youth organizations across the country, including Louisville Youth Group. Seeing the desire for bigger and better events, Lanner decided to take the next step: creating the first ever haunt convention benefiting queer youth.

“I wanted to create an event that would bring together the haunt industry, horror fans and LGBTQ communities under one roof. Where the alumni from the Book of Haunters series can come together, autograph people’s books, and meet each other,” said Lanner.

The event will have drag shows, seminars, performances and an awards show which will feature the HAH Haunter of the Year Award—a Legacy Award being given to Lori Cardille, an actress and longtime supporter of the LGBT community.

“What I look most forward to is seeing all these different factions come together to just have a good time, feel comfortable to interact with each other with no judgment. To, hopefully, raise funds that will go to more LGBTQ organizations. I want people to see how much love and heart I have put into creating this event.”

With nearly 50 vendors, a jam packed schedule including makeup and cosplay competitions, H.A.H. promises to bring both the glitter and the gore. Horror and Pride aren’t two words that often exist together, but for queer haunters—and all the wonderful allies out there—the two worlds will collide for a weekend of inclusivity and acceptance.

Find out more about the event at https://www.hahtheevent.com

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