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Eventbrite in hot water with conservatives after removing Riley Gaines event on women in sports

The event and ticketing company could face a conservative boycott the likes of which dethroned Bud Light this year as Virginia's Governor Youngkin tells his operations to stop using the service. Eventbrite's co-founder and Chairman, Kevin Hartz ended a message to those raising the issue by saying “Please go f*** yourself!”

Published: November 1, 2023 11:00pm

The online ticketing and event management company Eventbrite notified prominent women’s sports personality Riley Gaines that her event advocating against allowing transgender individuals in women’s sports would not be permitted on their website for violating its community guidelines while at the same time maintaining other event pages that may violate the rules.

The incident has put the company in hot water with conservatives, including the Republican Governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin, who directed his office and political committee to cease using Eventbrite to advertise events.

Last week, Gaines posted a communication to X that she received from Eventbrite notifying her that her event, “Protecting Women’s Sports with Riley Gaines,” would be removed from its website for "violating community guidelines and terms of service."

“Specifically, we do not allow content or events that—through on- or off-platform activity—discriminate against, harass, disparage, threaten, incite violence against, or otherwise target individuals or groups based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation, veteran status, age, or disability,” the notification read. “As a result, your event has been unpublished,” Eventbrite declared.

In the same post, Gaines called for a boycott of the company over the removal of her event. “I love all the people in my comments saying they’ve deleted their Eventbrite account,” Gaines wrote. “Give ‘em the Bud Light treatment.”

Preventing students who identify as transgender from competing in women’s sports has become an increasingly important issue in conservative circles under the umbrella of fighting "woke ideology.” Conservative politicians often refer to these efforts as “protecting women’s sports” because far-left ideology supports genetically male athletes competing in women's sports where they have an unfair physiological advantage.

Earlier this year, conservatives led a boycott against Bud Light brand beer after AB InBev, which owns the product, partnered with transgender personality Dylan Mulvaney, which they argued was contrary to their values. The boycott severely hurt the brand and it lost its spot as the top-selling beer in the United States this summer. AB InBev’s sales decreased 13.5% in the last quarter, according to the New York Post.

This is not the first event that used a traditional definition of women as an excuse to be removed from the site. Earlier this year, Eventbrite removed an event sponsored by the Independent Women’s Network, an organization for women who are dedicated to restoring “civility and common sense” when discussing issues. The organization specifically calls for “informed, open, and civil” debates. In July, Eventbrite banned the “Let Women Speak Austin” event page, organized by the IWN Austin chapter for allegedly violating the same rules as Gaines.

Attendees at the event discussed women’s rights issues, including sex-based protections. “Raising awareness of how female inmates are being forced to share cells with convicted sex offenders and sometimes raped and violently assaulted is not hateful—it’s empowering,” Senior Policy Analyst at IWN Carrie Sheffield wrote in the New York Post.

After Eventbrite removed Gaines event, Youngkin directed his office and his political committee to cease using the platform, citing the platform’s hypocrisy in permitting what he calls “pro-Hamas” events while going after women’s events for violations of the rules.

“Hamas is a terrorist group that invaded Israel and conducted barbaric attacks on women and children, there’s no place to sit on a fence here. Yet, Eventbrite allowed pro-Hamas events while proactively terminating an event for Riley Gaines,” Governor Youngkin told Just the News.

“As a result, my political committee and the governor’s office is no longer using Eventbrite. We’ve fired Eventbrite,” he continued.

Indeed, sports media company OutKick—which employs Gaines—pointed out the hypocrisy of Eventbrite servicing some of these pro-Palestine events while banning Riley Gaines.

One event advertised on Eventbrite after Gaines’ event was banned, was called “Stop the Genocide! Free Palestine!” Hosted at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City. The organizers or Eventbrite have since removed the page, but an archived version called Hamas terrorists “resistance fighters” and accused Israel of conducting a “total war” against the citizens of Gaza. The organization also called any force used by Israel “settler-colonial violence.”

After it highlighted the Eventbrite’s hypocrisy, OutKick noted that the organization removed pro-Palestine rally listings, including the one described above.

Why did Youngkin act so quickly? Fighting what Republican politicians label “woke ideology” has become an increasingly important issue for GOP primary voters. A Wall Street Journal poll from April showed that Republican primary voters prioritize “fighting woke ideology” over “protecting Social Security and Medicare benefits from cuts.” This is something that conservative Governor Youngkin, and others like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have made central parts of their campaigns.

Early in his administration, Governor Youngkin signed an executive order which prohibited the teaching of “divisive concepts”—especially critical race theory—in Virginia schools. This issue was one of the pillars of his gubernatorial campaign in 2021. Youngkin’s administration also authored new guidance on transgender students for Virginia schools this year which among other things, directed that students should use bathrooms and locker rooms based on gender assigned at birth rather than any self-chosen identity.

Florida Governor DeSantis has also been active in ensuring transgender athletes do not compete in women’s sports and outlawing transgender surgeries or treatments for minors in his state. The Florida Governor has also been engaged in a protracted legal battle with Disney, one of the largest corporations in his state, over its efforts to fight socially conservative legislation coming out of Tallahassee, the state capitol, drawing parallels to Eventbrite’s seemingly selective enforcement of its rules.

“Ron DeSantis has always stood for truth and has acted to protect women's sports in Florida, remove indoctrinating gender ideology from schools, and protect children from harmful chemical or physical sex change mutilations,” Bryan Griffin, Press Secretary for DeSantis’ presidential campaign told Just the News. "He has also led the conservative movement on fighting back against large corporations that push social transformation without representation, blazing a trail on this front in his successful battle against Disney,” he continued.

Eventbrite did not respond to a request for comment from Just the News about its decision to remove Gaines’ listing from their website and about the pro-Palestine events that were covertly taken down.

The company’s co-founder and Chairman, Kevin Hartz, posted his thoughts about the episode to X in response to a post by OutKick, where Gaines is a host. “I am the Co-Founder and Chairman of Eventbrite and to accuse Eventbrite of being Pro-Hamas is egregious and moronic.  How could you make an unsubstantiated slander that I support these genocidal maniacs?”

“Please go f*** yourself!” he added, with a disclaimer that the statement only represented his individual views and not those of Eventbrite.

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