Community Stories: Tanise Hill, Detroit

Published on February 8, 2022 in


The day my grandson Ross came out to me is a day I’ll never forget. When I lost my daughter – his mother, I committed to taking each of her kids to dinner once a month. It was a special way for us to stay connected now that they were getting older, and their mom was gone. We were eating chicken when I asked him if he had a girlfriend yet. He responded with a simple, “No.”

Of course, I told him not to worry. He was only 21. There was plenty of time for him to find a relationship. He looked at me and said, “I’m not worried, I’m already in a relationship – with Steve.” If I wasn’t seated, I would have hit the floor.

I grew up in the 50s and 60s. It was a time when you could be a lot of things in a Black, churchgoing family, but the one thing you couldn’t be under any circumstances was gay. Over the years, my mindset never evolved. I wasn’t hateful. I just wasn’t accepting. Looking at my grandson across that table the first thing I realized is that I didn’t love him any less. It wasn’t him who had a problem, it was me.

Ten years later, Ross and his husband are happily married and I’m proud of how far we’ve both come. In 2018, I even went to the PRIDE parade in Downtown Detroit with him. I was a little apprehensive when his sister stood us up, but everyone was so sweet. I wore my silver pumps and I danced and laughed the entire time. It ended up being one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.

Tanise Hill is the Associate Labor Liason at United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

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