"The Q Files” cover topics including an exploration of the ghostly hauntings in the town near Chernobyl, the nuclear power plant which melted down some 35 years ago, rendering the now deserted town uninhabitable.
They've also recounted the tragic and grisly story of a mom who murdered seven of her children, and they spoke to the spirit of a long dead lesbian who was the first woman sentenced to death and executed in Ohio. They're Shane McClelland and Lori Gum, and they're the hosts of a podcast called “The Q Files,” a show which McClelland describes as “Queer Eye” meets “The X Files.”
McClelland is a gay man who lives in Columbus, Ohio with his boyfriend, two dogs, and, he says, at least one paranormal entity. Gum is a gender queer lesbian. They met around 2011, when Gum was employed by Stonewall Columbus, the local LGBT community center, where McClelland had stopped in to inquire about volunteering. They began working together. One fateful day Gum had a chance to go on a ghost hunt, and McClelland invited himself along. From this they formed a group called “Queer Ghost Hunters” and began filming their exploits as a documentary web series. The series became popular, but was too time consuming to continue, so eventually they agreed to start a podcast together, which became “The Q Files.”
The podcast makes for a fun listen. The topics are genuinely eerie, even scary, and the two congenial hosts share these stories in a matter-of-fact way which adds to the spooky fun.
"I've always been weird and had an interest in the supernatural and paranormal," McClelland says. "Maybe it was just the media that was available when I was young or growing up in a haunted house. I used to devour the ‘Goosebumps’ books and things like ‘Animorphs.’ Then there were shows like ‘Sabrina the Teenaged Witch,’ ‘Hocus Pocus,’ ‘The Addams Family’ and ‘The X Files.’ I feel like the ‘90s were a good time to grow up with an interest in the weird, and I don't think I ever grew out of that."
McClelland noted that he takes such things more seriously now and doesn't view any of them as fantasy.
"I think there's definitely something to it all that science can't explain just yet, and even if I'm wrong, I like living in a world with a little extra magic and mystery," he said.
Gum said that she grew up with a ghost in her house.
"It was very friendly and mischievous," she recalls. "We simply thought of it as an odd family member. So from a very early age I was not afraid of the supernatural at all, just very curious about it."
McClelland added that in order for them to put a topic on the podcast, it has to interest them.
"We are our target audience," he said. "We try to tell the stories in a unique way or find stories that often aren't told, and then tie them together in a way that relates to modern issues. A lot of stories, whether they're paranormal, magical or folklore, have roots in basic human issues. That's something we're very good at discovering and telling folks about in a compelling way."
"Honestly, I think most of the stories find us," said Gum. "Shane and I have many interests and we are always coming across stories of the spook, weird, supernatural, or just lost forgotten history. We always seem to just know when the story is right."
The topics they choose indeed do work. The Chernobyl story is terrifyingly eerie as it recounts the experiences of three young men who visit the abandoned town near the nuclear reactor and encounter a strange figure among the ruins of the desolate buildings. The episode in which they contact a female entity from the spirit world may also induce some chills, and the tale of the mother who murders her children is profoundly disturbing. It's a tale which has the power to stay with listeners long after the story ends.
McClelland said that while most of the stories offer a queer angle, some do not.
"We're content with being the LGBTQ angle ourselves," he said. "I'm gay, Lori is a lesbian. Us telling a story often gives it a queer angle and perspective. But we've also shared the experiences of African Americans in the UFO community, stories centered on women and economically disadvantaged folks. Our goal, if there is one, is to tell the stories not often told. As we know, a lot of history is more queer, more colorful, and more female than was recorded. It's important for us to share all of those voices."
Gum spoke of what she hopes listeners will take from the podcast.
"A sense of wonder," she said. "A sense of awe, A sense of understanding that there are different perspectives to long told stories, natural and unnatural phenomena and history. As we say, 'be weird, stay curious.' We mean that very seriously. Most of all we want people to stay curious."
"I always hope that people take away that the world is magical and mysterious and complicated and that makes it beautiful," said McClelland. "As part of that, we hope that everyone can see that they have a place at the table."
Season three of “The Q Files” is now underway. Listen here: https://the-q-files.pinecast.co/
The podcast can also be found on Apple, Spotify, and on every podcast app.