In 2019, Dave Lohse was inducted into the College Sports Information Directors of America Hall of Fame for his 42 years of being one of the best in his profession. But Lohse’s lasting legacy is that of being an out college SID.
Lohse, a fixture at the University of North Carolina since 1977, retired at the end of 2019 and was fondly remembered by students, coaches, fellow administrators and legions of sportswriters. Lohse came out as gay at UNC to his bosses in 1992, at a time when it was a potentially career-killing move. For Lohse, though, it was an act of pride and liberation and we believe he is the first openly gay SID.
“I came out at the University of North Carolina in 1992 for purely selfish reasons.” Lohse wrote for Outsports in 2001 in his coming out story, “I have a very outgoing personality. I have a permanent smile on my face. I am incapable at effectively telling a lie. And obfuscating was killing me. It was going to drive me to a premature grave. So I came out. I knew because of my nature, I would be totally ineffective at hiding my new life. So I told people. My thinking went: Better to hear it from me than from someone else.
“While my act began as a selfish venture I soon became aware on a cognitive level that what I had done was immensely political. Visibility makes all the difference in the world. It is infinitely harder for a person to hate or discriminate against someone they know and love and respect. I found that out. ...
“What warmed my heart the most was the reaction of the student-athletes. To a man and a woman the acceptance I felt was utterly amazing. The comfort level was there so quickly that we were able to kiddingly joke about the subject almost from the get-go. And that made them more comfortable with a subject that they all need to know more about, as some of their teammates are inevitably gay, lesbian or bisexual.”
Lohse had an influence that went far beyond the duties of an SID. In a terrific profile of Lohse in the Daily Tar Heel, Chapel Fowler recounts the impact he had:
From 2001 to 2012, four brothers passed through the UNC men’s lacrosse program: Ronnie, Billy, Ben and Mark Staines. All four were starters, and all four became friends with Lohse, who oversaw the team’s communications.
Lohse also grew close with Ron and Lauren Staines, the boys’ parents. They saw Lohse 15 to 20 times a year and often ate with him at Top of the Hill or Pantana Bob’s after home games.
About a year after Mark, the youngest brother, left UNC, Lohse got a call. Maryland had legalized gay marriage in 2012, and one of Ronnie’s longtime friends wanted the Staines brothers to participate in his wedding. The boys were ecstatic to help.
Ron and Lauren realized, right then and there, how much Lohse had changed the lives of their children for the better.
“We know we sent them there likely very homophobic,” Lohse remembered the parents telling him. “And then they meet you, and you become a family friend.”
Lohse’s sheer presence, the Staines parents told him, prompted their sons to learn about, understand and support the LGBTQ community. The brothers didn’t interact with many openly gay people growing up in Maryland, but their friendship with Lohse shaped the progressive values they hold today.
“You gave them the gift of compassion and understanding,” Lohse remembered Ron and Lauren saying. “They are better for having been in your life. We owe their open minds to you.”
Lohse was a huge supporter of Outsports from the time we first published in 1999 and helped us with story tips, articles and being a great resource for what was then the fledgling LGBTQ sports movement.
Dave Lohse is a pioneer in that movement and 28 years after coming out is still an inspiration for those struggling with who they are. May he have a happy and fulfilling retirement.