UPDATE: Excitment over Coachella reminds the world of Anschutz’s ties to anti-LGBTQ organizations


After a Washington Post article exposed donations from Phil Anschutz to anti-LGBTQ hate groups six months ago, news outlets, individuals and organizations called on Anschutz to cease any and all donations to anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

As we reported earlier, he has apparently done so, and expressed support for the rights of "all people" in the process. That prompted this response from One Colorado, a prominent statewide LGBTQ organization, and ProgressNow Colorado:

DENVER — Six months after calling on Colorado billionaire Phil Anschutz to stop funding groups who oppose basic rights and equality for all Americans, including LGBTQ Americans, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, and One Colorado, the state's leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans, expressed relief that Anschutz has stopped donating to these organizations.

“Last summer, an article in the Washington Post exposed nearly $200,000 in contributions from the Anschutz Foundation to anti-LGBT hate groups, including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the so-called Family Research Council,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Ian Silverii. “We called on Phil Anschutz to immediately stop funding these groups, for whom anti-LGBT discrimination is plainly central to their mission — and it's our understanding that he has done so.”

"It is heartening to see Phil Anschutz give his unequivocal support of everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, and we appreciate that the Anschutz Foundation has stopped funding anti-LGBTQ hate groups after the Washington Post revealed the funding in their July article," said One Colorado Executive Director, Daniel Ramos. "We are grateful that Phil Anschutz looked at the facts and did the right thing after our organization and others asked him to cease funding these groups."

“We are relieved that Anschutz has ceased funding to grantees when made aware of their anti-LGBT activities, and we'll continue to be vigilant to ensure he keeps this promise,” said Silverii. "We're proud that our organization played a role in helping convince Phil Anschutz to stop funding hate."

Love is love, right? - GPOINTSTUDIO / SHUTTERSTOCK
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  • Love is love, right?

Ah, Coachella. Whatever your personal feelings about writhing around outdoors with thousands of drunk people while watching “the greats” on a stage too far away to see, there’s no denying it’s one of the most anticipated music festivals of the year.

The hype for this summer’s event only got louder when the lineup was released — including queen Beyoncé headlining — with notable appearances by Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar.

But amid all the excitement, some financial details about the festival’s owner, real estate mogul Philip Anschutz, began to resurface. We reported in depth on Anschutz last summer, and took a look at the organizations to which he gives his money. Among these, anti-LGBTQ organizations the Alliance Defending Freedom, the National Christian Foundation and the Family Research Council stood out, as originally uncovered by the Washington Post.

People were appropriately outraged at the time, but the fervor has since died down. Now, thanks to reminders by Esquire, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post (who even mentioned our blog in their story) and plenty more, fans are starting to question the man in charge of Coachella.

Meanwhile, Anschutz apparently told the Rolling Stone that the uproar was "fake news," and that he had ended all contributions to the groups in question.

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

Whatever his assertions, it's safe to say that proud feminist Beyoncé isn't down with prejudice toward the LGBTQ community, and we imagine many of the performers on the lineup aren't either. So we’re left to wonder what the public backlash is going to accomplish.

Will Queen Bey back out? Will there be a massive boycott? Or will Anschutz' response calm the public? Considering three-day passes start at $399, the controversy could lead some to choose a different use for their money.

Whatever ends up happening, this immediate outcry is encouraging. It wasn’t always that someone’s ties to anti-LGBTQ organizations caused public disavowal. Nowadays it's almost a career-ender.

After gospel singer Kim Burrell’s anti-LGBTQ rant went viral, she got kicked off Ellen and faced tons of backlash from others involved in the film Hidden Figures, the soundtrack of which she contributed to.

Plus, looking back on this summer, plenty of high-profile musicians refused to tour in North Carolina in light of its controversial bathroom legislation, which restricts the rights of transgender individuals to use public restrooms. The state faced some economic downturn as a result.

Then, of course, many of us still remember the Chick-fil-A fiasco, or the boycott on Barilla pasta, both due to anti-LGBTQ sentiments expressed by the companies’ owners.

We may not know what the future holds for Coachella yet, but it’s nice that people are starting to speak up.

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