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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Coachella owner’s anti-LGBTQIA+ history

Coachella+owners+anti-LGBTQIA%2B+history

The importance of knowing where the money goes

January is an exciting month for festival-goers and music lovers. Lineups for festivals all around the country are released this month, from Tennessee’s Bonnaroo, New York’s Governors Ball, Boston Calling, and many other festivals.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, typically garners attention for its star-studded lineup. Due to its popularity, Coachella has the ability to get bigger artists on their stages, like 2020 headliner Frank Ocean, who hasn’t performed live since 2017.

Celebrities, popular social media influencers, YouTubers and roughly 100,000 daily attendees flock to the festival grounds every year. As much as Coachella seems to be an exciting experience full of opportunities for Instagram pictures and making others envious, combining live music with specialty food and other amenities, its inclusivity for its attendees has become questionable in recent years.

Philip Anschutz, the owner of Coachella organizer Goldenvoice, as well as his entertainment company that owns half of the festival, has donated money to anti-LGBTQIA+ organizations and other conservative groups that deny climate change and other right-wing causes that don’t align with the liberal ideals of many of the festival’s performers and attendees.

Anschutz’s private family foundation reportedly donated $190,000 to anti-LGBT groups from 2010-2013, including the Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council and National Christian Foundation. According to Complex, “these organizations are not exclusively anti-LGBT groups but are mostly religious organizations that ex- press seriously negative, anti-LGBT sentiments.”

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#cecece” txt_color=”#000000″]“Like Coachella, looking into who or what you support and where their money is going can sometimes bring about unsettling realities, but it allows the choice to contribute to them or not.” [/mks_pullquote]

Just from scanning the lineup poster, names of openly queer people are all over it, from highly anticipated headliner Frank Ocean, boy band BROCKHAMPTON led by openly gay frontman Kevin Abstract, Steve Lacy, frontwoman Lindsey Jordan of Snail Mail Band, and others. The lineup is representative and inclusive of LGBT musicians, but Anschutz’s donations do not foster the same support and inclusivity for people in the community.

Although it is not a rare occurrence for owners of massive corporations to put their money towards causes that may not appeal to all their consumers, it is important to be relatively informed about where billionaires’ money like Anschutz’s is going, especially when he is earning a large sum of it from an event that thousands of people look forward to actively support every year.

This same notion is reflected in politics and perhaps influences people’s opinions of candidates. Is a candidate’s investment to a certain group with specific ideals synonymous for supporting said group and subsequently what they stand for? Like Coachella, looking into who or what you support and where their money is going can sometimes bring about unsettling realities, but it allows the choice to contribute to them or not.

The news of Anschutz’s donations seems to resurface around the time the lineup comes out every year and is eventually followed by a statement from Anschutz denying he is anti-LGBT (he even subsequently donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 2018). Anschutz has since stopped donating to groups with anti-LGBT sentiments. However, he still gives money to conservative individuals who actively work against the LGBT community’s interests.

Many corporations or their owners may be shady with where their money goes, and consumers have a lot of power in choosing to support these causes or not. Anschutz’s donations might be unsettling for some, or his refutation of accusations and donations to LGBT organizations as a reaction may have redeemed his morals for others.

Nonetheless, the choice is left to festival-goers whether to support Coachella and its owner, and it’s not unrealistic to feel somewhat conflicted. Above all, being cognizant of where your money is going, especially when it takes part in the disenfranchisement of marginalized people, is important.

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