Ariana Grande’s F You to Coachella Founders Not Lost on LGBTQ Fans

In case you forgot, the founder of the annual Coachella Music Festival, Philip Anschutz, has repeatedly given part of his $12.9 billion dollar fortune to companies like The National Christian Foundation, the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom, groups all known for their bigotry and aversion to the LGBTQ community.

After the initial reports broke and a blog post by Afropunk went live urging people to consider what they are really paying for when they buy that Beyonce ticket, Anschutz himself released a statement saying he didn’t believe in discrimination, only how well you can do the job and stated that the donating to companies that supported such acts would be ceased immediately.

“Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news — it is all garbage.”

Anschutz continued: “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…Neither I nor the Foundation fund any organization with the purpose or expectation that it would finance anti-LGBTQ initiatives, and 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.”

But when Pitchfork reviewed the Anschutz Foundations 2015–2016 taxes, it was revealed that, while they did stop donating to the three original companies they were still donating to a wide array of other organizations with a history of bigotry as well as “dozens” of conservative and libertarian organizations.

Pictchfork reports donations include “Americans for Prosperity, the Political Arm of the Industrialist Koch Brothers, the Federalist Society, the Conservative Legal Network that Trump has given an unprecedented role in picking federal judges and NumbersUSA Education & Research, which calls itself an “immigration-reduction organization”

The Anschutz Foundation also gave “close to $200,000 to Republican politicians and Super PACs’” and while these decisions are their right as a company, foundation, and american citizen it has made many LGBTQ fans and allies extremely hesistant when going to purchase their weekend passes. But it’s not just queer music goers with valid concerns, it’s also anyone supporting the medical marijuana industry as it was revealed in Freedom Leaf, a pro-legalization cannabis magazine, that not only does Anschutz also operate (through Goldenvoice) “Panorama, Hangout, FYF Festival and may be anti-marijuana” he’s donated thousands of dollars to groups such as Sam inc and its partner organization, Smart Colorado with the goal of countering the impact of Amendment 64, the initiative that legalized recreational cannabis (which is worth noting, that many move to these legal states, specifically Colorado, to use medical cannabis that is easier to gain access to after such amendments).

So somewhere between actively trying to stop the accessibility of medicine, healthcare, immigration rights, and the rise of LGBTQ individuals whilst also donating mad money to the Republican Party; fans stopped caring and kept buying tickets.

The conversation instead moved to the artists performing, a point that was easy to make this year when long time aly. and newly admitted member of the fluid sexuality team; Ariana Grande was announced as the weekend one Headliner.

It wasnt Ariana’s first LGBTQ controversy this year as she was also criticized for ticket prices spiking after she was hired to perform at the Manchester Pride Event of 2019, even though Ariana has very little control over pricing, she was accused of Queer-baiting and met with much controversy, despite how difficult it must be for the performer and her team to return to the city she and her fans faced a terrorist attack in.

However Ari proved herself to be an ally once again as she finished her set sunday night of Coachella weekend one walking off the stage (after her performance) leaving behind a beautiful display of solidarity via a rainbow flag that took over and filled each screen, completely covering the stage in Pride.

While many pointed out that she probably still got paid, or joked that they hoped she’d been “paid upfront” others criticized her still for taking the job at all but i applaud her for going into an environment where she knew her personal preferences would not be respected by those in charge and displayed her pride anyway. She told every fan there that may have felt unwanted that they were not. She was here and she was proud.