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Downtown Boys Donate Portion of Coachella Paycheck to LGBTQ Organizations

Downtown Boys
Greg Noire (Coachella 2017)

The queer punk performers call out Coachella in new political open letter. 

Downtown Boys, a queer Providence punk band, called out Coachella after performing at the California festival these past two weekends. In a political open letter, published through Spark, the group recognized the festival's incredible socioeconomic power and pointed fingers at 77-year-old billionaire Philip Anschutz, who owns Coachella's problematic parent company.

Related | Coachella Organizer Under Scrutiny for Contributing to Homophobic Organizations

"Coachella is operated by the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), started by Denver businessman Philip Anschutz, a 77-year-old billionaire who also oversees the Anschutz Family Foundation, which donated nearly $200,000 to anti-LGBT groups in the past five years," Downtown Boys wrote. "That includes $30,000 to the Family Research Council and $110,000 to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which fights LGBT equality in the courts."

The band justified playing the festival, recognizing there was no call for an organized boycott. "It is important to realize that we are workers for Coachella," Downtown Boys wrote. "We are getting paid to do a job and we have a problem with one of the bosses." Within Coachella's capitalist, mainstream framework, they added that demands can still rightfully be made. "It is totally unacceptable that money from its owners or anyone for that matter ever goes to anti-LGBTQ organizations or any efforts that endorse hate," they said. "We need to call this all out, though it can't end there."

Related | Petition Urges Coachella Headliners to Donate Proceeds to LGBTQ Organizations

Along with their open letter of protest, Downtown Boys announced they'll donate a portion of their Coachella paycheck to "organizations that fight for LGBTQ rights and freedoms, which means the freedom and justice for all people." They closed by encouraging "other artists to do the same."

Fans responding to Downtown Boys' public declaration have highlighted how successful, affluent allies, such as Lady Gaga, should also be involved in the protest alongside their LGBTQ fans. One Twitter user said the responsibility should not fall exclusively on queer perfomers of color, but also those with more access and privilege.

Read Downtown Boys' full letter, here.

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