Ten Money Questions for Lane Hudson
Last September, blogger Lane Hudson posted improper e-mails sent by Mark Foley to a congressional page. This set in motion a chain of events that resulted in the Republican decline during the Midterm Election of 2006. Lane’s actions became news. Big news. Dubbed the Washington Whistle-Blogger in Time Magazine’s Person of the Year issue, Lane experienced moments of fame, but struggles financially today because of it. I asked him to give us his thoughts about money, politics and the price tag of activism.
1. You have become somewhat of a celebrity in the gay political community. Typically with notoriety comes the “rich and famous” label. Blogging made you “famous” in a 15-minute-Warhol way but has it made you rich?
Not even close. And I don’t expect it to.
I didn’t set out to expose corruption for financial gain. I did it because it made me mad that the culture in Washington knew about it and did nothing to stop it.
That being said, it has been a very educational experience to have gone through this. I have learned a great deal about the press, my friends, the political community, my family, special interest groups, notoriety, and myself. Although it’s been a very challenging couple of months, I wouldn’t change a thing.
2. What is your most significant memory about money?
The first time I ever realized the effect of money on my life was during my parents’ divorce. My mother made me aware of the financial hardship that we were going through. Although my family was never wealthy, I always had the things I needed and often got things that I wanted. When the divorce began, that all changed. Shopping for clothes for the new school year became a tradition of the past and weekend dinners out ceased to exist. But, I adjusted to a new reality. That’s all you can do as a child. It’s also a very good quality to have as an adult.
My mother also was very adamant about my understanding that class was more important than wealth. It’s a wonderful lesson that more people should know. It’s really about valuing people for who they are instead of for their financial station in life.
3. What is your worst habit around finances?
I’m not a very good saver and hate it. I was actually starting to save money before I was fired from HRC. Thank goodness. Otherwise, I would be in a much more precarious situation than I am already in! But, I certainly have learned the value of saving money so you can deal with unexpected situations without serious hardship.
4. After the Foley scandal, you lost your job with HRC. Why did they fire you? And what are you doing for income right now?
HRC was faced with a difficult political situation. They had invested nearly five million dollars in the 2006 Midterm Election. Once I was on the verge of being exposed as the anonymous blogger that first posted the Foley emails, I let HRC know. They took what they thought was the most appropriate course of action. To get the full story, you’ll just have to buy the book. Then you can come to your own conclusion about why they fired me.
To make ends meet for now, I’ve been doing some writing, spending my savings, and having an understanding and compassionate roommate and land lord.
I would also like to take this chance to thank Mike Rogers and other gay bloggers who took it upon themselves to ask the community to support me. It’s been incredibly helpful and I am very humbled by it.
5. Do you have a partner? If so, do you see eye-to-eye on money? If not, what role has money played in past relationships?
Nope, no partner. I’m single fellas!
In past relationships, money hasn’t been much of an issue because I have yet to be in a serious, long term relationship. (I was late in coming out). Until I am ready to make that kind of commitment to someone, I think it would be hasty to even discuss personal finances. I’m a little leery of how that will all work. Just like in everyday situations, in a relationship, it will be easy to make decisions based on emotion rather than logical financial reasoning. I will certainly be looking for advice when it comes to this and will take my time when making major decisions that will affect me, my partner, and any future children that could be affected by it. I’m happy to know that Queercents is there to help with those decisions!
6. If you could buy one thing right now what would it be?
Without hesitation, I can say an apartment or house. That’s my goal in 2007, actually. It turns my stomach to think how much money I have put in other peoples’ pockets in the rent I have paid in the last ten years. I’m looking forward to that money going towards equity that will make me financially stable for the long term.
If I could just indulge, I would totally go on a shopping spree for a new wardrobe. It’s been a while and don’t we all like to look good?
7. Is there a price attached to activism?
This is a great question. There is certainly a price attached to activism, but it varies from person to person and with each situation. Often, people believe in something and spend much of their free time supporting their cause. This could have a financial cost or something as simple as costing you time spent with family or friends.
Sometimes, your activism can take you where you had no intention of going. Just like I never intended to be public, I’m sure that people like Cindy Sheehan never knew that taking a principled stand could lead to such notoriety. In such situations, the costs can be much larger. I’m still learning exactly what this all means. But, in the end, you can never regret being an activist because this is a wonderfully free county that allows it and it’s the most basic daily expression of freedom.
In the Information Age, it is easier than it used to be to be an activist. Time Magazine’s Person of the Year issue is perhaps the widest acknowledgement of this. I want people out there to act on their ideas, their goals, and the things they believe in. There is no telling when it can create change or become something big. What is certain is that nearly every big idea started small.
8. Which is more important: how much money you make or how you spend it?
Hands down, the way you spend it. That’s not to say that a higher salary makes doesn’t make it easier, but you can definitely survive on a Capitol Hill salary. The hardest thing for me has always been to live within my means and not the means of those around me. It took me a while to figure that out, but understanding yourself and your life is certainly liberating!
9. Who or what experience taught you the value of a hard earned dollar?
There have been times when I have had nearly no available money. Those times have taught me how to survive on a shoestring budget. It really is amazing the money that we throw away on excesses and unnecessary things. When I didn’t have it to throw it away is when I realized this. It has forced me to analyze where I spend my money now and what impact it will have on me a month from now.
I would also like to give a shout out to one of my brothers. He has worked very hard. He started out as a steel beam walker and is about to take majority ownership in his own construction company. I’m very proud of him and he’s a great example of how you can rise to the top through hard work and dedication.
10. Does money buy happiness?
Heck no. Not to call out “The Donald” but the way he laid into Rosie last week, there is no way he’s happy! Money can certainly buy comfort and freedom from financial worry. But that doesn’t translate to happiness.
You’ve got to learn to find your own kind of happiness. There is no formula for it that can be applied across the board. I’ve been completely broke, but walking on the beach of Sullivans Island, South Carolina fills my soul with such happiness that I forget about all of the problems in my life. Standing on the lawn of the United States Capitol fills me with pride that our institution of government can survive scandal, war, and a volatile electorate. When I come home and my boykin spaniel’s tail wags so violently that his entire back half swings from side to side, I am happy. The mere thought of loving someone with every fiber of my being makes me happy. And I haven’t even found him yet!
While money is an ever present factor in our lives, it’s the intrinsic things in which we will find happiness.
More about Lane Hudson
Lane Hudson started blogging in July of 2006. By the end of September, he posted the emails from Mark Foley to a 16 year old page. Thus began the scandal known as Foley-gate.
Prior to that, Lane worked as a staffer to Former U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings and former South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges. He has also worked as a fundraiser for Episcopal High School, a boarding school in Alexandria, VA. Recently, Lane worked at the Human Rights Campaign, but was fired when it was revealed that he was behind the anonymous blog, ‘Stop Sex Predators’ which first posted Mark Foley’s emails to House Pages.
For his role in bringing to light the inappropriate behavior of Mark Foley and the subsequent fall out which affected the 2006 Midterm Election, Lane was profiled as a Time Magazine Person of the Year as an example of the new power of average citizens in the Information Age. The Advocate Magazine also recognized Lane as a Person of the Year.
Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.