How 9 Coachella Attendees Feel About The Festival Owner’s Anti-LGBT History

AEG’s Philip Anschutz donated to several controversial Christian organizations as recently as 2015.

Photographer Peter Holslin

Earlier this year, calls to boycott Coachella flared up over reports that, between 2010 and 2013, the charitable foundation of Philip Anschutz — CEO of promotion giant AEG Live and co-owner of Coachella — had donated a combined $190,000 to Christian non-profits with anti-LGBTQ stances. Though Anschutz ended up issuing a statement denying accusations that he was anti-gay and saying the Anschutz Foundation had ceased funding to the groups in question, the news nevertheless came as a shock for many Coachella fans, especially considering the festival’s reputation for openness and for bringing in performers who support progressive causes.

Over the weekend, at least one Coachella performer publicly spoke out about the issue, but there were no on site protests of any kind. The FADER asked some festival-goers their thoughts about the issue and whether it made them think differently about supporting Coachella.

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Ajon, 24, Los Angeles
How 9 Coachella Attendees Feel About The Festival Owner’s Anti-LGBT History On left  

What are your thoughts about the owner of Coachella donating money to anti-LGBT Christian groups in recent years?

I feel like Coachella is a place where everybody should be accepted and received. No matter where you’re from, your background is, what nationality you are, what you believe in, whether you’re homosexual or heterosexual, I think everybody here should feel welcome. I think it’s good that [Anschutz] in a sense listened to folks and made a decision based on that [by cutting off his donations to the organizations]. I’m glad he took action.

Herb, 45, Santa Barbara, Calif.
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What are your thoughts about the owner of Coachella donating money to anti-LGBT Christian groups in recent years?

It’s kind of strange. You come to Coachella, and I don’t want to say it’s a freak show, but I mean, everybody’s welcome. [The owner donating to anti-LGBT groups] would just seem like a stupid thing to do. You see uninformed voters voting for candidates that may not be the best choice for them. I guess rich people do that too, right? Not just poor people make uninformed decisions — rich people who run big music festivals can do that too.

Owen, 20, Austin, Texas
How 9 Coachella Attendees Feel About The Festival Owner’s Anti-LGBT History

What are your thoughts about the owner of Coachella donating money to anti-LGBT Christian groups in recent years?

As long as it’s legal, it’s not wrong. But morally, I just don’t agree with it. I find it reprehensible, to be honest. I just feel like, Damn man. Let people marry who they want. Let people do what they want. We’re all in this fuckin’ world for 80 years or whatever and then we die. Let us do what we want.

Stephanie, 32, Los Angeles
How 9 Coachella Attendees Feel About The Festival Owner’s Anti-LGBT History

What are your thoughts about the owner of Coachella donating money to anti-LGBT Christian groups in recent years?

Hell yeah, [it’s] a huge bummer! Especially in this political climate as well. I decided to make my feelings known this year [gestures at shirt], kind of as a screw you for being screwed out of not being able to sell my ticket this weekend. If I had the choice I would’ve definitely done it.

You couldn’t find somebody to buy your ticket from you?

No. I came with a large group of people. I was one of the rides, so I had already committed and I felt really bad. I would’ve let like 20 of my buddies down.

How did you react when you heard the news? Anschutz put out a statement saying he’d stopped giving money to the organizations in question. But he’d still given them money for the last five years.

It’s tough to come to terms with that. As a festivalgoer, you’re like, “It shouldn’t matter.” But in this day and age, if it doesn’t matter, look who you get for president. Unfortunately I had too much money riding on this weekend, so my gut could not deal with the fallout. But I decided to make my political stances known, and represent women of color everywhere, especially our Latinas. I’m hoping at least even if I can’t make a giant contribution in completely boycotting, I can at least make it known that me as a festival-goer, I don’t agree.

Daniel, 27, San Bernardino
How 9 Coachella Attendees Feel About The Festival Owner’s Anti-LGBT History

What are your thoughts about the owner of Coachella donating money to anti-LGBT Christian groups in recent years?

It kinda caught me off guard. I’d never heard of him until that topic came up. It’s kind of a catch-22, because you have this guy who, you know his stance as far as what he’s funding on a personal basis, politics-wise. But then you have so many artists, free-spirited artists, like for example Lady Gaga, who has always been a supporter of LGBT. That’s the plus side of it. I still want to support all these artists.

Alex, 19, Wisconsin
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What are your thoughts about the owner of Coachella donating money to anti-LGBT Christian groups in recent years?

I mean, I don’t support it. But it’s such a good festival, it’s tough to really boycott something like this. I feel like here is a true place of expression. I’ve seen so many different people just doing different things [here]. It doesn’t sap them.

Mauricio, 37, Chicago
How 9 Coachella Attendees Feel About The Festival Owner’s Anti-LGBT History

What are your thoughts about the owner of Coachella donating money to anti-LGBT Christian groups in recent years?

Unfortunately at this point in time, all giant companies are just owned by horrible, horrible men that do horrible, horrible things. Your camera to your shoes, your pants, your underwear — the grand majority of big corporations are owned by people that are conservative male men that could give a shit about me or you or poor people or brown people, black people, Asian people, gay people, lesbians. Everyone. It’s hard, but what are you gonna do? You just gotta do your part as much as possible.

Martha, 25, New York City
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What are your thoughts about the owner of Coachella donating money to anti-LGBT Christian groups in recent years?

I mean, I think that’s kind of one of the problems with capitalism, is they encourage you to vote with your dollar. And that’s kind of a problem, because people shouldn’t have to choose between art and music and a celebration like the festival like this and their personal beliefs and the things that are important to them. It’s hard for me to choose to participate in voting with your dollar, because I also think that it disenfranchises people who don’t have access to resources. I’m not really sure that the right thing to do is to engage in that. Ultimately I don’t know that we’re going to win that battle, or that that’s the kind of battle I want to fight.

Does this make you think about the deeper issues of who these people are putting on the festivals we’re attending?

I mean, it’s not a balanced power structure, and that’s something I think you always have to grapple with when you come to one of these things. But at the same time, having just seen Downtown Boys — which is a band with very overtly socialist, communist, globalist values — I think that in the same way, despite the fact that someone conservative is in charge of this, there’s still a lot of different other ideas happening here. I think that sometimes participating in something like that, rather than segregating yourself, ultimately leads to more exposure to more different types of people, and can be a good thing in that way.

Sheron, 27, Detroit
How 9 Coachella Attendees Feel About The Festival Owner’s Anti-LGBT History

What are your thoughts about the owner of Coachella donating money to anti-LGBT Christian groups in recent years?

I hadn’t heard about that, but as a Christian woman, I believe that love is love and hope is hope. People can be gay, people can do whatever they want to do. As long as you love them and give kindness and sweetness to everyone, there’s nothing wrong with it. Coachella is a place where you can be free, and it doesn’t matter what you are. Transgender, gay, whatever. It’s a place where you can be free, have a good time, and enjoy other people. That’s what the world is about — meeting new people, being genuine, and having a great time.

How 9 Coachella Attendees Feel About The Festival Owner’s Anti-LGBT History