Ten Money Questions for Lane Hudson
A year ago, Queercents interviewed Lane Hudson, after he gained fame as the Washington Whistle-Blogger by posting improper e-mails sent by Mark Foley to a congressional page. Today, we check back for an update on fame, fortune and the price attached to activism.
1. What has been the cost of notoriety?
The cost of notariety in a place like Washington can be high if you don’t know how to navigate the professional world. Since DC is full of people with very sensitive egos a combination of notoriety and a (somewhat) strong opinion can be very threatening to people. I haven’t really changed who I am over the past year, so it has been incredibly difficult for me to understand this dynamic. It has, in many cases, caused me to change how I approach people and situations.
That dynamic has made the job search difficult. There isn’t much of a market for people in DC that are willing to ‘shake things up’. I’m learning how to make it work, but its been a pretty long learning experience. There are a number of people who have been a great help to me, but in the end, nobody can teach you how to handle it. You’ve got to figure it out for yourself.
2. What do you remember most about money this past year?
Without a doubt, the most memorable thing about money and 2007 is figuring out how to get the most out of a buck. While I’ve been learning to support myself in the new world in which I live, there have been many times where I’ve been at or near the big fat zero in the bank account. That has made things incredibly stressful, but I’ve made it through.
Friends have been a big part of handling these difficult times over the past year. Without them, I’m not sure where I would be right now. I’m incredibly, incredibly thankful to a host of very good people who have been there when I needed it most.
3. Did you ever find a job after being fired from HRC?
I am now in a job that I really enjoy. My job is managing a campaign for an at-large seat on DC Council. It’s an exciting campaign where we are working to replace a thirty year incumbent on Council with a young, energetic, progressive candidate that will help continue the progress we’ve made in the District of Columbia in recent years. Working in this job has been very refreshing for me and has reminded me that all politics is local and affects the lives of people every single day.
Being publicly fired in Washington is an awful thing to go through. It’s even worse when your former employer lies to the press about why you were fired. Yes. HRC lied to the press about why I was fired.
This is the first time I’ve said this so emphatically, but it feels good to tell the complete truth about it. I have friends at HRC and I respect what they do, but the leadership of the organization needs to take a long hard look at their commitment to integrity and fairness.
For those who saw the Out 100 pictorial, it was very ironic for me, almost surreal, to be standing next to Joe Solmonese in the photo. It was a year later and we were both in very different places.
4. Out magazine labeled you the “provocateur” in its Out 100 list. Is entrepreneur a better label for you these days?
Nope. I’ve never been much of a businessman. Perhaps I need somebody who could take my ideas and make them reality. Know anybody that fits the bill?
‘Provocateur’ made me a little uneasy at first, given the difficulty I’ve had balancing notoriety with my public writing and opinions. However, I’ve grown comfortable with the ability to write for large audiences in such places as The Huffington Post. My willingness to take on the establishment and challenge things that need to be challenged has not gone away. So, the title is probably appropriate.
I don’t think I’m done shaking things up either. There are too many things that we need to do to sit idly by when I could help make the world a better place.
5. Have you made any money blogging?
Ummm. Not so much. I didn’t even have ads on my blog for the longest time. When I did put some on there, it was google ads. They don’t pay squat.
I would love to be an opinion writer for a website or a magazine, but so far, I haven’t been able to close the deal on any of that. Traditional journalists and editors seem to be looking for folks who have been writing for years because of the ‘battle tested’ quality that comes from that experience. That is entirely reasonable, so I’ll keep writing and blogging. I’ll also continue to pursue a professional writing gig as well.
6. Have you been able to get paid for any speaking engagements?
There have been some opportunities for me to make a little money speaking or attending events. Mostly, however, the offers have been only for expenses to be paid for the trip. It would be nice to have some professional speaking engagements.
Recently, I gave the biggest speech I’ve ever delivered in Stockholm, Sweden. I was very apprehensive about how I would perform and how the speech would be perceived. However, it turned out incredibly well and has significantly increased my confidence to be able to write and deliver competent, interesting speeches.
So, that is another goal of mine to pursue in the future. In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to live an interesting life so I can entertain those future audiences with tales of adventure and mystique!
7. Would you ever accept a job in Washington again?
I’m not sure that I would ever work for a politician again that isn’t willing to take on the culture in Washington. Right now, we’ve got a political system that is utterly uninspiring to most Americans.
For now, I’m very comfortable outside of the ‘establishment’ and challenging them to do the right thing and to move the country in a progressive direction. Perhaps in my lifetime, we’ll achieve a place where I can believe in Washington again. Until then, I’m not willing to sacrifice my personal values to advance those of someone without the courage to move us forward.
8. How would you advise a friend that was considering being a whistleblower?
That’s a tough question. You know, most jobs have whistleblower protection. In the political world, that’s just a fantasy. If we really wanted to clean up Washington, we should give enormous bonuses to people who are willing to expose corruption and scandal.
Until then, I would have to advise anybody wanting to go down that road to be sure they believe they are doing the right thing. If that answer isn’t an emphatic yes, then they may not be prepared for the tough road that lies ahead. People in this town don’t like for the power structure to be upset or challenged and they are willing to go to great lengths to protect it.
Thankfully, my whistleblowing has been well-received by just about everybody (that isn’t in a position to make hiring decisions!). So, I’ve gotten a lot of support from folks who appreciate knowing that a little bit of the corruption that exists in government is now gone.
9. Were you hoping for a book deal from the Foley scandal?
Many people suggested that I write a book. At first, I didn’t think the story was enough for a book. There was even some interest from people in the publishing business. At the time, I had no idea how I would fill the pages of a book and the discussions ended up going in circles.
Since then, I have really gotten my head around what my book would say. It would be the story of telling America how Washington works through the lens of someone who made a great personal sacrifice to try to make it better. There is a great deal about this town that needs to change and I’ve got a unique viewpoint to speak from.
I spent a lot of time writing the first half of the year, but have had to stop for now. Unless I can cultivate interest in a book deal, then it may never get written. I’m just not in a position to work full-time on a book and don’t have the discipline to work a full-time job, be active outside of that, and write a book.
10. Do you see money doing any good these days in Washington?
There are some good uses of money here, but largely, an investment in Washington organizations is better spent on warming yourself on a cold winter night. It’s disgusting how much money is wasted in this town. It happens in the government, in corporations, and in non-profits. I have witnessed it first hand on all accounts. It is particularly vile when it happens in a non-profit because the money comes from ideological donors who offer their financial support on behalf of an idea. They would be devastated to see how cavalierly people in Washington spend that money on things like first class airline tickets, hotel suites, and expensive bottles of wine.
Recently, I’ve been favoring organizations that operate outside of the Beltway. They may be national organizations, State, or local, but these people have a much better sense of how their money should be spent.
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. Out Magazine has also recognized Lane in their 2007 “Out 100”, a list of the 100 most influential gay Americans.
Lane has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and ABC. He has also been a guest on CNN Radio, KFI Radio in Los Angeles, National Public Radio, Fox News Radio, the Ed Schultz Show, and More Fair Game with Faith Salie. In addition, Lane’s work and commentary has been featured in publications such as the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Economist, the L.A. Times, and USA Today.
Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.