Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 14th, 2006
Who is Jan Klement? Is Bigfoot gay? How can asking questions get me in trouble and even have people leaving me "death threats" on my phone machine? Well, it seems rather easily, it turns out.
Was Klement an earth sciences professor? A biology professor? A high school science teacher? Is he still alive? Did he ever exist? Did he see what he says he saw happening between a cow and a Bigfoot?
I once wrote that Jan Klement is the "Deep Throat" of the Bigfoot field.
Jan Klement is listed as the author of a book surrounded by controversy. The name of that book, which is experiencing its 30th year of publication is The Creature.
First published in 1976, the thin volume, The Creature: Personal Experiences With Bigfoot is being republished in 2006 with the addition of "notes and sketches previously eliminated from the first edition."
The book, about close encounters of the Bigfoot kind in southwestern Pennsylvania, apparently is now also corroborated "with newspaper accounts," according to its new online descriptors. I will be interested to see what the book’s publishers have added to the text.
In my and Patrick Huyghe’s 1999 book, now revised and republished in 2006, as The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates , I discuss Klement’s case, which allegedly did happen within a context of an ongoing and active Bigfoot sighting flap:
Beginning in the summer of 1973, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, experienced a high number of encounters with 7-to-8 feet tall hairy upright creatures. Between July 1973 and February 1974, at least 50 individual eyewitnesses reported sightings of Bigfoot-like creatures in 22 different incidents. These sightings involved mostly single creatures, one involved two, and another involved three in an apparent family group. Most were dark colored, but one was white, another was one tan-colored, and another had a white mane. In three of the encounters, attempts were made to shoot the creatures. Blood was found in one case.
For those that have heard a couple of my lectures since 2003, or read my book, Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America, in the chapter "Sex and the Single Sasquatch," you are familiar with this book. For others, you may even be aware of how sharply people have reacted to me going beyond the mundane questions such as "how tall is Bigfoot."
Is Bigfoot Gay?
From a darkened lecture hall to the internet, my life has been changed, via death threats, lies, and smallmindedness by a casual remark I once made about this book.
Let me explain, with a summary from my book and some added new comments.
In 2001, I was speaking at a well-attended Ohio conference on Bigfoot. Some 225 interested people from throughout the Midwest and elsewhere were there. The audience included mostly people from surrounding towns, of course, including a few families of Bigfoot hunters. By the time my slide lecture began after 9 PM that cool spring evening, most of the families had left, and the crowd had decreased to probably less than 100 diehard researchers.
I talked for over an hour, showed 80 slides, and discussed a wide range of Bigfoot topics. One subject I dipped into for perhaps 30 seconds was the fact that little has been written on Bigfoot’s sexual life. I thought I would slightly challenge the audience, and I showed a slide of the illustration here by Harry Trumbore of what is on page 47 of the field guide (see a light copy here, below).
It shows Harry’s imagined view of what a Bigfoot seen by a Pennsylvania professor – the mysterious Jan Klement – in the early 1970s might have looked like. As it turns out, of all of the sketches in the field guide, this is the one in which Harry had unconsciously given a slightly effeminate stance to a clearly male Bigfoot.
I briefly – and I cannot state this too strongly – noted during my talk that it was curious that Harry would make this Pennsylvania Bigfoot appear this way, as it is one of the few instances where we had an eyewitness state that he had seen this Bigfoot having sex with a cow. I light-heartedly wondered aloud if 10% of the Bigfoot population, matching the figures we have for Homo sapiens, might be gay. It was a throwaway remark, a slight challenge intellectually, which I do in my lectures, but also in a context that is serious and culturally sensitive. I was thinking openly with the audience about why this is a question to be pondered. Then I moved on to the next slide. Or so I thought.
After the end of my lecture, the usual questions and answers touched on a variety of topics, but not this one. People asked me about what I had seen, what I “believed” in, what did I think about Bigfoot in Ohio, all the usual questions, but not one person asked me about the sexual activity of Bigfoot. Of the two families that were left in the audience, one mother even came over afterwards to say how interested her oldest daughter was in the research, and I gave the young woman my last, small, slightly damaged stature of Bigfoot from California, for her living room, with her mother’s permission and blessing.
You can imagine my surprise when I returned home a few days later, to find my talk had become the center of a vortex of internet-driven outrage. People who were not even in attendance at the conference, from the West Coast and the South, were claiming that I was “irresponsible” for having exposed families and their kids to my “disgusting” talk in which (according to these emailers) I had called “Bigfoot a homosexual” and that “Bigfoot and cows mate.”
People (again, ones that were not in the audience in Ohio) were stirring the firestorm by writing in with these kinds of comments: “Loren – Did you really say that Bigfoot is homosexual and likes cows? Sorry, kiddo, but I’m rolling on the floor laughing my head off at that one.” Or this one from an angry writer: “Talking about anal sex with cattle by an unclassified creature when there are children in the audience who may view Bigfoot as a monster anyway, isn’t a subject YOU as the speaker, arbitrarily have the right to inflict upon other families. You are NOT God Loren.”
Another person forwarded this: “The most important point is you have NO credible evidence that Sasquatch have anal intercourse with cattle. What stupid illiterate speculation!!!!!!!!!!!” Or this: “Come in out of the rain Loren. You live in fantasy land.”
A couple of wags tried to put a different spin on what happened. One wrote: “What information I gleaned from Loren’s presentation, specific to this question, was Bigfoot was basically a happy fellow, who likes an occasional steak. Which also, may be the reason he is a happy fellow.” Another sent in this: “Actually, if Bigfoot was gay, he wouldn’t be having sex with cows, he’d be having sex with bulls!” A Washington State emailer clarified this old joke by writing that, no, “…if Bigfoot was gay, he’d be having sex with
another Bigfoot, not a bull.”
The internet exchange about this was getting silly, but still people continued to write in with vigor asking: “Did you really say Bigfoot was gay‚ and was observed having sex with cattle?” Years later, on the internet, the only thing that people can remember about my talk in Ohio is the twisted reality that I said “Bigfoot is gay” and “Bigfoot has anal sex with cows” – neither of which were noted exactly that way.
Trying to defend yourself online is often an uphill battle, especially against misstatements from folks who hear things about you secondhand. Add to the mix the emotionally laden melodrama when it is assumed you are undermining the youth of all of middle America. Did I get pulled into sounding defensive back then? Of course I did. That’s the way I was feeling at the time, and I got caught up in the battle – as my life has always revolved around education and keeping kids safe.
Upon reflection, I see now, what happened to me, post-Ohio, was an indication of what has occurred with almost all the sexualized data that has ever surfaced related to Bigfoot. Instead of science, emotions creep in too easily. If one’s ideas on Bigfoot, the animal, and its sexual life are brought forth, such an approach is usually quickly attacked, silenced, or ignored.
Since then, although there was hardly any reaction when I gave a very specific talk on the subject of being open to talking about the sexuality and full biological nature of Bigfoot in London, when I gave the talk in Washington State, I was met, once again, with the emotional reaction. The same has occurred on forums and lists where people start telling "f*g jokes" instead of dealing with the fact that if Bigfoot is real, we should be talking about its mating habits and its sexuality (reports of roaming alone juveniles, why are human males kidnapped, what do Bigfoot do with other animals) just like we talk about its migration habits, what it eats, where it sleeps, and other biological functions.
My argument that this one issue is too close for some humans to apparently discuss, because Bigfoot is seen by them as so human, has been proven again and again. The issue is just too emotional for some people to extract themselves from it, and to talk about this calmly.
Do Bigfoot, like bonobos, ever display homosexual activity? Of course I don’t know, but it is remarkable what a firestorm I started by merely asking the question.