“I still refuse to go to a festival that is owned by someone who is anti-LGBT and pro-gun”.
Those were the words from Cara Delevingne as she explained her decision to boycott Coachella to her 41m fans on Instagram on Sunday.
Despite being left “speechless” and in tears by what she called Beyonce’s “iconic” headline performance, the 25-year-old continues to protest against the alleged values of its billionaire owner Philip Anschutz – persistently linked with far-right Christian evangelical groups.
Delevingne, a supporter of gay rights and herself sexually fluid, added that she should be “allowed to shame that man and the festival and still show my appreciation of an artist at the same time”.
But just how true are the claims?
Anschutz, 78, made his initial fortune through the oil, road and telecom industries before forming the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) in 1999,
Its live music arm, AEG Live, brought Goldenvoice in 2001 which operates Coachella, as well as a host of venues worldwide – including the London O2.
But the accusations of bigotry, which first surfaced in 2017, relate to payments made to hard-line conservative religious and political groups across the US, through his charitable foundation.
These include allegedly supporting:
- Anti-gay laws – Anschutz allegedly supported Colorado’s 1992 anti-gay Proposition 2, donating £7,000 to the campaign which allowed private property owners and employers to discriminate against gay men and women. As the New York Times reported, the initiative was thrown out by Colorado’s Attorney General, Gale Norton.
- Same-sex marriage opposition – Culture website The Fader detailed alleged payments made by Anschutz to a number of hard-line conservative politicians. This included a payment of £1,900 to Republican Scott Tipton. a strong opponent of same-sex marriage and abortion, in October 2017.
- Pro-gun support – The same Fader investigation alleged that in March, he gave £3,780 to Senator Cory Gardner, a vocal pro-gun advocate. Following the Las Vegas shooting that killed 58 people, Gardner came out against gun control. “This is a tragedy, if you’re trying to politicize it, or if anyone is trying to politicise it, then shame on them,” he told TIME.
Anschutz released a statement strenuously denying all the allegations, branding them “garbage” and “fake news”.
“I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation,” the statement continued, highlighting the diversity of AEG’s workforce as evidence.
He added that The Anschutz Foundation “immediately cease all contributions” to causes whenever anti-LGBT initiatives are brought to its attention.
Delevingne’s renewed criticisms of Anschutz followed fan claims that her support of Beyonce’s Coachella set was hypocritical given her stance on its in owner.
In response, she posted: “Just because I love Beyoncé doesn’t mean I now love Coachella. My hashtag was #Nochella, I still wouldn’t go.”
AEG later released a statement “wholeheartedly” supporting the LGBT community in light of her remarks.
“Our recent support of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and its vital work speaks to our organization’s true values,” it read.
Anschutz went on to express “regret” if any money given to charities “may have worked against these values”.
“That was not my intention, it does not reflect my beliefs, and I am committed to making sure it does not happen again”.
The competing statements offer little in the way of a united resolution amid emotive accusations.
Perhaps Delevingne summed up the situation best, concluding “Don’t let anyone come between you and your truth”.