Entire City of Nashville Protests Lesbian Soccer Coach’s Departure

We told you a few weeks ago about Lisa Howe, the women’s soccer coach from Belmont University in Tennessee who came out to her team and then was forced to resign a week later because open homogayness goes against the (private Christian) school’s very serious commitment to the stupidest part of the Bible. Apparently Belmont University is going to find a heterosexual women’s soccer coach and a few Unicorns and bring them back to campus to properly lead successful kicking/scoring sans Gay Agenda.

Although Howe’s team suspected she was a homo, this pre-Thanksgiving meeting was the first time Howe discussed it openly. See, Howe’s ladypartner done got herself pregnant and Howe felt that “continuing to hide” was “the wrong message to send.” Furthermore, she told The New York Times, “I thought maybe they assumed I was ashamed or that I was doing something wrong because it wasn’t coming straight from me.”

ESPN’s “Between the Lines” did a segment at the school, including interviews with Howe’s team members, who are all super supportive and un-phased by the homosexuality.

Students did not take Howe’s resignation quietly. Almost immediately, some ambitiously awesome students organized protests of Howe’s forced resignation:

Students cheered as passing vehicles honked their horns in support of their demonstration.

“The reason we are all out here today is to support Coach Howe, and we simply don’t think it’s right for someone to be fired for their sexual orientation,” Belmont alum (’09) Guy Farmer said.

“We’re here to show support for the freshmen who are 17, 18, even 19 years old, and seniors who even feel like they can’t come out of the closet, because if they do, they’ll be persecuted.”

Farmer—along with roughly 40 students, alumni, and supporters—braved temperatures in the low 30s and snow flurries to get their point across.

“I think this is really important for us to show our support as a community and to show that not all of Belmont feels the way they their trustees do,” Belmont senior Becca Stone said. “For us, firing Coach Howe because of her sexuality was not the Christian thing to do.”

First of all, I wish I could tattoo “firing Coach Howe because of her sexuality was not the Christian thing to do” into the forehead of every dumbshit who thinks firing Coach Howe because of her sexuality IS the Christian thing to do.

photo by belmont vision photography

Secondly, YOU ROCK, KIDS OF AMERICA. Thet even got Reverend Melvin Talbert, a retired bishop of the United Methodist Church, at the protest providing Jesus-approved “words of hope,” such as “Even though we live in a society where institutions have constructed laws to exclude people, within my heart, and I think in the hearts of these young people, we know that such laws are unjust.”

The day after the protest, the children put together a Sit-in outside Belmont University President Bob Fisher’s office, and it looks like all the coolest kids in school were there:

photo by belmont vision photos

Meanwhile, Belmont’s faculty senate unanimously approved a resolution which states that “The Senate believes that the sexual identity of individuals should not impact that person’s standing on campus.”

Then! On December 8th — this is like Spirit Week or something — the kids held another protest, probably wearing cute mittens.

But a bunch of ambitious budding Christian activists are one thing but as we all know from Schoolhouse Rock, MONEY TALKS.

So when the dude who gave Belmont 10 million dollars to build an event center thinks it’s time to change, A CHANGE HAS GOTTA COME.  Trustee emeritus Mike Curb, president of Nashville-based Curb Records, emailed the school demanding they change their policy. He told reporters:

“It’s time for Belmont to change and to recognize that we have gay students, faculty and staff. I want to see this board and the school leadership act like Christians.”

Curb also said that Belmont was “out of touch with the reality of life on campus” and that there’s tons of gay students at Belmont particularly in the music program. (The flaming homosexuality of the school’s prestigious music program is a common refrain in articles about the Belmont LGBT situation). Curb also pointed out that “no matter what their sexual orientation, Belmont’s music school graduates will work with gay colleagues.” Furthermore, “we are trying to pretend that something doesn’t exist when it does.”

Lisa Howe & Wife

After Curb made his comments, School President Bob Fisher was forced to make a statement, in which he proudly announced that “sexual orientation was not a consideration in hiring, promotion, salary or dismissal decisions at Belmont.” That’s more or less bullshit though it could be argued that yes, LGBT teachers are allowed at Belmont, they’re just not allowed to ask anybody or tell anybody anything.

Marty Dickens, the chairman of the board, said “there could be” a conflict with the university’s Christian character if the school were to accept homos on staff.

Which brings me to The Catholic News Agency’s fantastic aricle “When the Coach is a Lesbian.” For starters, the header for this section of the CNA’s website is not to be missed:

In “When the Coach is a Lesbian,” the Wise ‘Mary Hasson’ asks, “does it matter if the coach is gay or lesbian?”

Yes, in my view. A coach’s sexual orientation matters because of the nature of coaching itself. Parents who sidestep the issue, politely demurring comment in the name of “tolerance,” risk sending their children confusing and contradictory messages.

An anecdote about a probably imaginary soccer team called “The Comets” follows, in which an entire team was subjected to an all-you-can eat buffet and then an announcement from coach that she and her lesbo partnerfriend were gonna have a baby. This anecdote ends with a weird metaphor which compares lackadaisical attitudes about viral homogayness vs. complacent heterosexuality to a choice in pizza toppings.

Athletes “tend to idealize their coaches,” says Hasson, and often coaches “mentor their athletes in life, not simply sports”:

But when an impressionable athlete admires and seeks the approval of a coach whose lifestyle embraces “intrinsically disordered” sexual behavior, it’s a confusing situation, at best. The situation becomes even more confusing when parents say nothing negative – perhaps nothing at all – about a coach’s open homosexual relationships.

The message shouting across the silence is that homosexual behavior is moral, even normal. When a coach says, as Howe did, that she and her partner are expecting “their” baby (a bit of biological fiction, by the way, that LGBT advocates conveniently gloss over), parents who remain silent legitimize the claim that gay/lesbian partnerships, plus children, are the equivalent of heterosexual married family units.

Although Mary’s piece is really fun to read, it’s safe to say at this point that she’s in the minority here.

Because EVERYBODY wants Lisa to get her job back and nobody seems happy with the school’s lack of protection for LGBT employees.

The Belmont faculty is currently pushing to add sexual orientation to the school’s non-discrimination policy.

Local government is taking a stand too — two Metro Council members plan to file a bill that would prevent third-party vendors from using Metro facilities unless they have nondiscrimination policies which cover sexual orientation and gender identity — in other words, they aim to “essentially carry Metro’s nondiscrimination clause to companies that do business with the city.” Mayor Karl Dean called on the city’s boards and commissions to adopt a nondiscrimination policy as well.

Although Lisa’s future is still unclear, this story is, surprisingly, quite heartening. Everybody is fighting for Lisa. Students, teachers, administrators, donors, gay people and straight people — and none of these people HAVE to fight for Lisa. They are all choosing to.

This is encouraging because it means we’re heading towards a world in which adults can no longer rely on their faculty, peers or the youngsters that are supposedly under their purview to share their outdated values, or simply fall in line with ancient moral policing. ‘Cause we’re angry as hell, and we aren’t gonna take it anymore.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3184 articles for us.


  1. Y’know, this is a disturbing trend: “…that she and her partner are expecting “their” baby (a bit of biological fiction, by the way, that LGBT advocates conveniently gloss over) – have you noticed all the foster, and adoptive parents doing this too?! 0_o The mind…it boggles.

    • This was the thing that stuck out most to me, too. Really?! These idiots would never DREAM of telling a straight couple who had to use a sperm donor that it’s not THEIR baby.

      Ugh. I am literally sick to my stomach at the thought that people who think that way are allowed to infect others with their twisted logic.

      • >>These idiots would never DREAM of telling a straight couple who had to use a sperm donor that it’s not THEIR baby.>>

        I wouldn’t bet on it. There are some crazy-ass biological essentialists out there.

  2. The Catholic News Service, along with various Ask-A-Priest websites (Dear Abby for those who fear eternal damnation!), are some of my fave comedy sites on the Web. But then I go home for Christmas and all my relatives have not yet gotten the joke…(I esp. love the line about “a bit of biological fiction, by the way, that LGBT advocates conveniently gloss over”…dude…YOU BELIEVE IN TRANSUBSTANTIATION, a piece of “biological fiction” if I ever heard of one!!!)

    Redhead with the cute glasses and Etsy-made hat and Bob Dylan sign is my favorite of the many cute Southern activists on this page. Whether or not the coach gets hired back, at least she’s got a whole mess of kids and faculty on her side.

  3. um redhead with the blue sign and glasses has won everything forever.
    also the rest of the activists! they’ve won too! but she won harder.

  4. Biological fiction? Such as the “virgin” Mary having a baby? BTW, isn’t it odd how tolerant Christians are of Mary’s husband not being the father of her kid. I thought that kind of thing was a bit frowned on.

      • Actually, Jesus’ birth wasn’t the immaculate conception, that was the conception of Mary- the immaculate part referring to her being born without original sin. The religion nerd in me needed to point that out, but I totally understood what you were referencing.

  5. This story makes me warm and happy (minus Mary, obvs). I was really surprised by the amount of support Lisa’s getting from Christians. It makes me hopeful, because this is a face of Christianity that I can relate to.

  6. This reminds me of when Love in Action was protested in Memphis back in 2006. I think the creator of this placed watched ‘But I’m a Cheerleader!’ and didn’t note that it was satire. They actually made the girls femme it up, and guys play sports. Cause you know…..that shit’s like 100% effective. I love it when Tennessee makes me proud to be from it!

  7. This article is so heartwarming I don’t even CARE about the stupid parts. Can we create a rainbow medal? I wanna award one to all those kids.

  8. Is Belmont University a private school? If so, they should be able to hire and fire whoever they want. As for the students, they are free not to attend a university with such homophobic policies, and the best way to show disapproval of this action would be to choose not to give money to that school.

    • Sure, they can hire and fire whomever, but that doesn’t mean they get to do it in peace. I like the idea of trying to change fucked up policies/situations before resorting to leaving them.

      • I agree with your first sentence. As for the second one, I guess it depends if the people negatively affected consider the situation worth the effort of changing.

          • I think things would change, because we would be devoting our energies to situations that we really felt were worthwhile, rather than barking up useless trees.

        • They are a private institution but are still accredited a university in the US. They should have to comply with anti-discrimination laws in whatever state they registered, and should not get a free ride because they are a religious institution.

          This being said, Tennessee does not have any anti-discrimination relating to gender identity or sexual orientation. Damn.

      • Interesting… the government likes its hand in every pie. If Belmont accepts any public money at all, it should not be able to fire employees (who are taxpayers, and who bankroll the government) for any other reason than failure to perform job duties adequately.

  9. Yes, Belmont is a private school. I think you are right, they do have that right as a private institution, but I think the interesting thing here is that the pressure is not coming from the government or any legislative body. The flack they are getting seems to be coming from the community and the university’s donors. As for the students, I can understand how they get pulled in, how many people have their sexual orientation figured out before college? I mean, I think kids are figuring themselves out at much younger age, but there are still lots and lots of people who don’t figure it out until they’ve entered college, I know I didn’t:)

    • You make good points here, and I am happy to see that the students are protesting (as opposed to the government swooping in and telling everybody what to do).

  10. You guys, this warms my heart like you wouldn’t believe. This isn’t San Francisco; it’s Tennessee. And the whole community is supporting this lesbian coach. My ex-gf is from TN, and coming out to her family was really not a fun time, even just a few years ago.

    Like the cute redhead’s poster says, it looks like the times really are a-changin’. And it feels fantastic.

  11. Pingback: BiFemLounge.Com » Entire City of Nashville Protests Lesbian Soccer Coach’s Departure – Autostraddle

  12. . . . and then we found out it was all a big freakin’ lie and howe was allowed to resign after she harmed gay and straight players with her behavior – and belmont steadfastly protected the whistleblowers AND howe . . .

      • Oh . . . it makes sense – but let me spell it out for you – she “the coach” abused her power over the young women in her charge and that university did the right thing protecting those you women and persuading her to leave.

        • evidence would be much appreciated.

          Yes we should ‘look before we leap’ when it comes to supporting *anyone*…but this certianly looks like unfair dismissal…

          And isn’t it nice to see an entire community supporting ‘the coach’? I seriously doubt that these people would be supporters had they been taken advantage of…
          jus sayin…

  13. *young* women

    check you facts everyone – it wasn’t because she was gay – it was other behavior, the media got this one wrong

      • “Thanks for the clarification. And your reliable sources are… ?”

        Personal experience – I’m a primary source and a direct witness to the harm she was causing. You can’t win this – I have observed her actions. I and others are still waiting to be contacted and interviewed. Good job “journalists”.

        • for us to change our story based on your story would be, i believe, what the people call “hearsay.” and that is not admissible in a court of law or on the prestigious comment boards of autostraddle dot com.

  14. sez the auspicies of christiandom. ADAM AND EVE NOT ADAM AND STEVE. anyway…i agree/what warms my gay heart the most is that these are kids, at a religious private school, in tennessee. LGBTTNFTW.

  15. Pingback: Belmont will emerge stronger from coach controversy, president says – The Tennessean – Università Ohio

  16. I guess you only want to protect the gays that are in a position to abuse their power. Here is plenty of evidence of my “extraordinary” claim. Next time don’t jump to conclusions based on NO evidence. Young gay women have been harmed by this woman.


    • How does a Facebook comment on an unknown post by an unknown (blurred) source count as ‘evidence’?

      Also, I personally would like to protect all the gays, but more so all the people from being unjustly fired based on any prejudiced be it race, sexual orientation, gender, etc.

      • Obviously – you are not paying attention. There has never been an ounce of credible evidence she was allowed to resign (not fired!) because of her sexual orientation (there are a number of gay faculty and/or coaches at the university and have been for at least a couple of decades). The fb comment is a smoking gun from someone who was wronged by her (primary source – hello!?!?) – I can tell you without reservation based on direct personal experience the whole problem had nothing to do with her sexual orientation. You are taking a position on less evidence than the post provided you. She was not “fired” and the university does NOT make decisions based on sexual orientation. You are a pot calling a kettle black. You should back off and reevaluate your position and your “evidence”.

        • WTF?

          I just did a search of google news. Ya wanna tell everyone else to reevalute their positions and their evidence based on an obscure FB comment too?

          I mean seriously if it turns out she was in the wrong that will be a totally different story but right now there really is no evidence unless you’ve got something else to back that up.

          • I know there is at least one local media source who is going to look into it – frankly – it wouldn’t be too hard to get the info – all one would have to do is interview a few former players. I don’t know why anyone thinks they know what discussions and agreements happened behind a closed door between a couple of people. No party – the coach nor the university rep. has said she was allowed to resign because she was gay. It bothers me greatly that so many are jumping on a bandwagon with no evidence at all.

        • Asking you a question about the evidence you presented means I’m not paying attention? Really?

          The Facebook comment doesn’t make a good primary source in the manner you chose to present it. We can’t see what the commenter was responding to in the first place. We have no idea who the commenter is and the content is muddled at best without being able to see the rest of the thread.

          I’m aware that Howe wasn’t fired. According the generally accepted story, however, it seems that she was given the choice to resign or otherwise be fired, because she came out of the closet at work. My statement was more of a general statement about the issue of workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation as this story brings that issue to mind.

          As far as your direct personal experience, at no point above did you say “hey, I was there. This is what happened as I saw it,” so how are any of us supposed to know that and take that into consideration? If you have a personal story you’d like to share, I’m sure all of us would appreciate it. You started out with an abrasive attitude which I think set the tone for the responses you received.

          • I showed you a smoking gun – that is enough considering Belmont’s statement was clear that it doesn’t consider sexual orientation in ANY highering or firing policies. Howe has not disputed this AT ALL. Therefore the rest is SPECULATION on the part of people who have no direct knowledge of situation. *cough* *cough* . . . YOU! You see, you can’t win this because I am a direct observer and do have direct knowledge. I won’t share the story because I’m not breaking a confidence without permission. This woman should have been unmercifully fired two years ago. But embrace your ignorance all you want, I have noted people like you never learn – you want to win an argument on the internet but you fail to take into consideration those she injured. Good luck with that – something tells me you have already had a lot of “luck” with that.

          • Okay, you know what? Stop being a bitch. I tried to explain to you that I personally was willing to listen to what you had to say if you would just try to make a statement with some amount of proof. You don’t have to share a personal story if you don’t want to, but you can’t expect anyone to listen to what you have to say if you can’t communicate effectively. If you didn’t want to say anything specific, you could have opened with “hey, I have personal experience with this. I don’t feel comfortable sharing the whole story, but I can say that it isn’t as it seems” or something to that effect. I’m tired of your bullshit. I’m sorry if you or people you know have been hurt. I don’t know the whole story obviously as you have taken the time to point out. I don’t want to “win” anything. I commented here as I often do to show support in an accepting forum on an issue that affects our community. If you looked around the site, you’d realize that a) the staff goes to great length to present factual information and doesn’t have a problem openly making corrections if mistakes happen to be made, and b) most people here are open to debate and listen to all sides of a story – part of that includes looking for facts to back up claims. I don’t have a problem admitting when I’m wrong or learning from my mistakes. I take care to listen to everyone, learn from everything, and constantly re-examine myself/situations/opinions/etc. to avoid being close-minded or “ignorant” as you so tactfully put it. I don’t appreciate your attack. You took it beyond an impersonal debate/discussion. You don’t know me just as I don’t know you, so I can’t make any judgment on who you are except from what you’ve written here. At no point did I say or infer that you were stupid, ignorant, or not paying attention. Back off.

          • I’m the bitch? You are dumber than dirt – you had NO FACTS to begin with. Why would you believe one story over another? Well, because the first story has never been substantiated, has been in the lime light for weeks and the parties involved have NOT corroborated the “story”. I however have posted for you a public comment made by a former player who is willing to publicly state on her OPEN fb page that she was harmed! This is what hurts our cause the most! Idiots who would celebrate ANY gay victory REGARDLESS of how many young women – gay OR straight are harmed. I don’t know how you can live with yourself and STILL try to defend your position. Just admit YOU and others overreached and stop calling me a bitch for pointing out your failed logic. k?

          • I had a response to this with several different points, but then I realized that this argument has become pointless. We could go back and forth forever. How about we just agree to disagree and move on? It’s not even worth the time and energy.

          • Sure, whatever your need. But sooner or later you will have to confront your cognitive dissonance again.

          • RBB — given your condescending, stubborn, combative, incredulous tone, your flimsy awareness of what constitutes an actual argument, your ignorance regarding how to conduct an actual debate, the self-righteousness with which you denounce a number of reliable sources in favor of your own anonymous re-publishing of an anonymous comment on an anonymous facebook wall (which may or may not even be a real photo) which you share with us under an anonymous name and the fact that said anonymous fiesta is all you need to make you feel better and smarter than everyone else — I can’t imagine why you’d ever have a negative experience with anyone, let alone a homosexual woman. You seem so easy to get along with.

            Also if you use the term “smoking gun” one more time I would like to remind you that fire stops drops and rolls when it sees Dani.

          • You really told me! ha ha ha

            Here is the way I see it and I calls ’em like I see ’em:

            “I believe hearsay.”


            “I don’t believe hearsay.”

            It seems like there are a couple of people here who want to hold both ideals in their minds at the same time. It is pretty obvious, no one has to present an air of superiority or any such thing – it is what it is . . .

          • Actually, amusing myself – like I said, I already know that your ilk never take an opportunity to learn but I do get a kick out of trying to pummel ignorance out of people. I love that reality bites back!

  17. Regardless of whether the rumours about the reasons for her dismissal being different are true or not this is so heartwarming because all that positive gay friendly reaction was just based on her being gay which just makes me feel like maybe things are changing and I should have a little bit more hope than I do.

    • I can certainly give you that one – I’m just concerned for the whistleblowers who are now just feeling like pariahs from all sides. :(

  18. Pingback: BiFemLounge.Com » Gay rights a new tune for Nashville – Los Angeles Times

  19. Pingback: Gay rights a new tune for Nashville – Los Angeles Times

  20. Pingback: Bob Fisher: Stronger Belmont will emerge – The Tennessean – Università Ohio

  21. It sounds like the university is torn between its core principles and its desire to reach out to a wider base and is now paying the price for its inconsistencies. Everyone wants to put forth a positive image but in the end it all comes down to money and the university may loose both as a result.

  22. Great stuff. Sorry, I am waaaaay late on this, but I believe the ESPN program you are referring to is called Outside the Lines.

  23. SO i know this was a while ago but I just wanted to bring up this article as well:

    “Belmont University recently made a decision not to charter Belmont Bridge Builders, a proposed student organization to foster dialogue about the intersection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender – LGBT – issues and the Christian faith.
    Instead, the university is sponsoring a dialogue group, which has already met several times, on many of the issues set forth in the Bridge Builders proposal.
    “Given the history of the type of campus that we are, we didn’t want to create a group to start a campus-wide organization around things that could be potentially divisive or difficult for the institution at this point,” said Dr. Andrew Johnston, Belmont University’s Dean of Student Affairs.”


  24. I remember that… Good times. Still shocked they changed policy because of Mike Curb threatening to cut them off from his generous donations. It’s safe to say that particular religious convictions are for sale. Now… if someone could just raise enough money to free the “purple tele tubbie” we’ll be straight rockin in a free world… (no pun intended there with the word “straight”)

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