Coachella weekend just passed, and as my Instagram flooded with pictures of celebrities, YouTubers, and influencers in eccentric outfits, I wondered where the money is actually going to?
This year, Ariana Grande headlined the festival grossing the festival over hundreds of millions of dollars. During her performance, she displayed the rainbow flag in support of the LGBTQ community. Doing this earned her praise from not only her fans but festival goers as well. However, some had to criticize Grande since she was still headlining at a festival owned by an anti-LGBTQ founder.
A few years ago, The Washington Post revealed in a 2016 report on America's "Enemies of Equality", secrets about the Coachella founder, Phillip Anschutz, who is also the owner of the entertainment conglomerate AEG. The Freedom for All Americans campaign reported that Anschutz, one of the richest people in America with a net worth of $12.9 billion, gave large sums of money to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the National Christian Foundation, and the Family Research Council.
The National Christian Foundation funds several groups who aggressively working to chip away at the equal rights of LGBT Americans. The Family Research Council explicitly states on its website that it "believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large". It has been deemed an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Ian Silverii, the executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, says that "Phil Anschutz's extensive influence in Colorado politics has been known for years, but the degree of his support for anti-LGBTQ groups that fund extremist hate groups like Gordon Kligenschmitt's 'Pray in Jesus Name' is shocking." He goes on to say that "Anschutz is on the wrong side of Colorado, and on the wrong side of history." Greenpeace, a non-governmental environmental organization, notes that media companies owned by Anschutz are in the denial of climate science and the promotion of climate change skepticism.
Anschutz has released a statement addressing the claims against him insisting that the recent "claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news-it is all garbage." He continued to say that "I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation."
Fans are left in a moral grey area between choosing to boycott Coachella or go see performers like Ariana Grande, Tame Impala, and Billie Eilish. Even if the line-up is amazing, is it worth giving thousands to support a festival whose owner donates to anti-LGBTQ charities?