2017 was brimming with internal conflicts and moral conundrums: Can I be a feminist and listen to misogynistic rap music? Can I still like Vicky Cristina Barcelona even though it’s a Woody Allen movie? If MoonPies suck but I love their tweets, should I buy MoonPies?
Well, 2018 is shaping up to be the ultimate test of principles. Yesterday, Jezebel reported that Coachella’s billionaire owner Philip Anschutz is a climate-denying Republican who has donated to anti-gay organizations, classified hate groups, and Republican Super PACs. Meanwhile, the 2018 Coachella lineup was just announced and the festival features some of our favorite queer artists. So, I feel torn: Is it ok to go to Coachella in good conscience?
AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group) owns Golden Voice, the concert and festival company behind Coachella, FYF and many more. It’s no secret that billionaire white men are often corrupt, sometimes outright wicked, but Philip Anschutz wears his hatred on his sleeve: He’s donated to the Koch brothers, he’s a pro-fracking Keystone XL Pipeline-supporter, he backed Colorado’s Prop 2, which legalized discrimination against LGBTQ people, and donated to Mission America Coalition, which the Southern Poverty Law center dubbed a hate group after they tried rallied for travel restrictions for HIV-positive citizens. In 2017 alone, he donated almost $200,000 to Republican candidates, including pro-gun senators and representatives who oppose same-sex marriage and abortion.
Basically, Anschutz is your quintessential American supervillain, and with Coachella tickets being priced at $429 per pop, do we really need to give this monster more money to funnel into radical conservatism?
This year, Beyoncé, The Weeknd and Eminem are headlining the show, and are obviously a massive draw. But for LGBTQ fans like myself, I know I was excited for all the queer artists joining the lineup: St. Vincent, Tyler the Creator, PVRIS, Hayley Kiyoko, Kittens, Perfume Genius, and Tash Sultana. Plus, 2017’s hip-hop crown jewel Cardi B will also be performing, and Cardi has flirted with bisexuality in the past. With such a massive gathering of some of our favorite queer artists all in one place, how can we say no? The amount of spaces queer people are afforded to occupy is already so limited, so it’s hard to pass up an opportunity to celebrate queerness together, publicly, in a safe space.
Despite the cretin that owns the festival and his extreme right wing views, Coachella has been queer-inclusive in the past, too. The xx, Kehlani, Kaytranada, Frank Ocean, Tove Lo, Sia, Shamir, Years & Years, Halsey, Matthew Healy, Ezra Furman, Sam Smith, Lady Gaga, and Kesha have all performed at the festival in the past few years. Plus, many of Coachella’s current and past headliners have been major leaders in the Resistance, or are politically outspoken in all the right ways, like Beyoncé, who speaks truth to power through her performances, or Eminem, whose anti-Trump freestyle went viral earlier this year.
I’m totally morally conflicted, and in a country swirling with political discourse and a barrage of sexual assault headlines, it’d be nice to find respite in a desert full of LGBTQ people. But I do know one thing for sure: white men never cease to ruin things for the general population. As the saying goes, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”