CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dave Lohse, an openly gay man on the athletics department staff at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, was chosen to sing the Canadian national anthem at the 2013 Major League Lacrosse All-Star game held in Charlotte on July 13.
Lohse, though born and raised in the U.S., said he was very excited to have the honor of performing. Lohse has a particular affection for the Canadian anthem.
“The range is simple but the words are beautiful, and the thoughts expressed are beautiful, because it’s about the beauty of their land and the pride of their land,” Lohse told qnotes. “If someone can sing it well, there are notes and places in that where it just can give you goose-bumps if someone sings it right. It’s a very powerful anthem.”
Lohse works as UNC-Chapel Hill’s associate athletic communications director. He began his collegiate athletics work 39 years ago and began working at Chapel Hill in 1977. For 21 of those years, he’s been openly gay. His coming out in 1992 was controversial, Lohse said. At the time, the LGBT community was much less visible, particularly in sports.
“In all honesty, I was possibly the first male coach or administrator type at a Division One school to come out of the closet,” Lohse told qnotes. “It was sort of a big deal…Twenty-one years later I thought we would be further along in terms of the number of out athletes and coaches, administrators, support staff.”
LGBT inclusion in high school, collegiate and professional sports has gained some traction in recent years. NBA center Jason Collins came out as a gay earlier this year, bringing more national media attention to the issue.
The sports industry is growing in its acceptance, but Lohse still sees room for improvement.
“I think there is still a fear amongst folks who work in the industry or even student athletes, of what’s going to happen,” Lohse said. “Another thing that’s hurt us for higher visibility in athletics is the inability to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on a national basis…If there was a national ENDA where people knew that it would be much harder for universities to fire you for being openly gay, I think that would help encourage people to be a little more open about their sexual orientation.”
ENDA, which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, received approval from a U.S. Senate committee on July 17.
The All-Star Game was hosted at Charlotte’s Memorial Stadium and broadcast on ESPN2. : :