With a lineup that includes Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Radiohead, it’s hard not to get excited for Coachella 2017 but after a recent report about the owner of the festival, fans are having second thoughts.
Following the announcement of the festival lineup, several reports surfaced that Philip Anschutz — the owner of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG Live), which operates Goldenvoice, the company that runs Coachella — has been known to donate to anti-LGBTQ groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council and National Christian Foundation.
Anschutz has called the reports “garbage” and “fake news” and pointed to the people he has hired as proof that he is not anti-LGBTQ.
“I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation,” he said in a statement. “We are fortunate to employ a wealth of diverse individuals throughout our family of companies, all of whom are important to us — the only criteria on which they are judged is the quality of their job performance; we do not tolerate discrimination in any form.”
“Neither I nor the Foundation fund any organization with the purpose or expectation that it would finance anti-LGBTQ initiatives,” the statement continued. “When it has come to my attention or the attention of the Anschutz Foundation that certain organizations either the Foundation or I have funded have been supporting such causes, we have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups.”
While Anschutz denies donating to any anti-LGBTQ groups, his 2013 IRS 990 filing proves otherwise. The filing shows that Anschutz donated $10,000 to the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group that believes “homosexuality, bi-sexuality, and transgenderism” are not “acceptable alternative lifestyles or sexual ‘preferences.’”
On its website, the group’s statement on “human sexuality” reads, “[homosexuality, bi-sexuality and transgenderism] are unhealthy and destructive to individual persons, families, and society. Compassion compels us to support the healing of those who wish to change their destructive behavior.”
In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) labeled the Family Research Council (FRC) a “hate group.” The SPLC said the FRC “continued to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities.”
It is unknown if Anschutz has donated to any anti-LGBTQ groups since 2013. The reports haven’t seemed to affect Coachella’s sales as the $400 weekend passes are sold out for both weekends.