It seems like the owners of Coachella still suck.
Even though Philip Anschutz claimed that his anti-LGBTQ ways were behind him, a report by Pitchfork exposed several 2016 donations to right-wing causes.
Anschutz owns Coachella organizer Goldenvoice and half of the festival through his company AEG. This year’s festival includes headliners The Weeknd, Beyoncé, Eminem, and more. LGBTQ advocacy group Freedom For All Americans reported in July 2016 that Anschutz gave $190,000 to anti-LGBTQ organizations, sparking controversy about the festival ever since.
In January 2017, Anschutz responded to backlash, claiming it was all “fake news.” “It is all garbage,” he wrote in a personal statement. “I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation.” Per this statement, he allegedly stopped giving to groups that shared anti-gay ideals.
But Pitchfork's report shared five examples from 2016 of the Anschutz Foundation donating to anti-LGBTQ organizations. These organizations include The Navigators, Dare 2 Share Ministries, Young Life, Center for Urban Renewal and Education, and Movieguide Awards. It’s worth noting that these organizations are not exclusively anti-LGBTQ groups but are mostly religious organizations that express seriously negative, anti-LGBTQ sentiments. For example, the Dare 2 Share website’s founder wrote “homosexuality is a Satanic perversion of God’s gift of sex” on the site in 2008.
On the other hand, Young Life is a youth ministry program that operates in a lot of high schools across the country and offers summer camp programs. It’s not an LGBTQ hate group, but as a Christian organization, it maintains pretty conservative ideals.
These donations were made before Anschutz's personal statement, though, so there's no way to know yet if he cut off donations to these groups in 2017 like he claims. As Pitchfork points out later in the report, Anschutz is a well documented supporter of Libertarian and conservative causes. Meanwhile, his company Goldenvoice also runs a number of other festivals including Panorama, FYF, and Camp Flog Gnaw.
Pitchfork reached out to Anschutz for comment and his lawyer responded, maintaining that his January 2017 pledge to support the LGBTQ community still stands. “Over the past year, the Foundation has stopped funding certain organizations after it was brought to our attention that some of their activities were inconsistent with our values,” the lawyer wrote. “This is an ongoing process in which we continue to investigate the organizations that we support.”
According to Anshutz's lawyer, the foundation donates to 800 charities annually, so it could take them a while to parse out which ones are homophobic. Once they do, they want to try to work with the organizations first to change their policies before cutting them off. “If we find problematic activities, we first look to work with those organizations to effectuate positive change if we perceive they are open to hearing and responding to our feedback," the lawyer wrote. "Ultimately, if these efforts prove unsatisfactory, we will withdraw further support from those groups.”
Read Pitchfork’s full report here.