Coachella Comes Under Fire Amid Anti-LGBTQ Concerns

Zack Hage, Entertainment Editor

In the wake of recent political and social upheaval, one of the most famous music festivals, Coachella, has been caught in the crossfire after it’s owner, Philip Anschutz reportedly donated to organizations against LGBTQ rights.

Uncovered by publications such as The Washington Post, Teen Vogue, and Pitchfork, the news followed lineup announcements and the opening of ticket sales for the 2017 festival, which is set to open for two weeks in Indio, California during April. While the event has been run annually since 1999, it wasn’t until three years later when it found it’s current conservative founder, who also helms Panorama, FYF, and Camp Flog Gnaw festivals, as well as the Warfield venue in San Francisco, California.

With such controversy, festival headliners and managers have issued responses. While musicians such as Ted Leo, not attending the festival were distraught and angry, New York based hardcore punk band Show Me The Body will perform two concerts for LGBTQ rights and climate change in between their Coachella sets. Indie rock musician Mitski revealed her thoughts on Twitter, offering some freedom to fans who had paid the $700+ to see her among other artists.

Well I agreed to do this and not going would only hurt me not the fest, but you can still not go if you’re going with me, let’s make sure the spaces we inhabit are made safe.” Mitski stated.

Other attention has been brought to how the festival’s headliners are staunch leaders against social injustice, directly contradicting Anschutz’s interests/beliefs. For example, Radiohead has been known to protest in support of the Dakota Access Pipeline, while Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce have both made efforts to curb police brutality. Most fans I talked to did not view this as hypocritical, such as Miguel Milla, a Woodside High School junior who frequently listens to the aforementioned rap artist.

“When people go to Coachella, they go to have fun and listen to music. Just because you go doesn’t mean you support anti LGBTQ ways.”

Even when responding personally to stories, Anschutz has not provided evidence against his donations to anti-LGBTQ causes. When replying to an article from music magazine The Fader, Anschutz said that he had ceased such current contributions, on top of offering his takes on diversity when concerning his businesses.

“Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news – it is all garbage. I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation. 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.”

Interestingly enough, longtime festival goers are more critical of the agendas carried by the festival’s owner, and the festival itself. Rapheal Kauffman, an Audio Production teacher at Woodside High School and a participant in Coachella’s late 90’s debut, offered not only why it could be an issue, but also that it’s more widespread than we think.

“If you look into the company that this guy owns, there’s more venues that people will have to consider to ban. We start to forget sometimes, and next time we’re driving down the highway and we see a Chick-Fil-A are we going to remember their stances even though we appreciate their food.” said Kauffman.