Jay-Z’s mother Gloria Carter shares emotional coming out journey at GLAAD Media Awards

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 05: (L-R) Joshua Rush, and Robin Roberts present Gloria Carter with a Special Recognition Award onstage during the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)

Jay-Z’s mother Gloria Carter has emerged from the shadows to become a galvanizing figure for the LBGT community and on Saturday gave a touching speech as she accepted a special recognition at the GLAAD Media Awards in New York City.

Carter, whose story was highlighted on her son’s “4:44” album in a song called “Smile,” was honored by GLAAD for her contribution to the song detailing her struggle of coming to terms with coming out as a lesbian.

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She said: “’Smile’ became a reality because I shared with my son who I am… For me that was the first time I spoke to anyone about who I really am, my son cried and said, ‘It must have been horrible to live that way for so long.’ My life wasn’t horrible. I chose to protect my family from ignorance.”

Jay-Z rapped about his mom’s struggle in the song saying: “Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian. Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian. Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate. Society shame and the pain was too much to take. Cried tears of joy when you fell in love. Don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her. I just wanna see you smile through all the hate.”

According Page Six Carter said after years of hiding her sexuality identity, she decided to live her truth of being a gay woman. She talks about that coming out moment in the song:

“Living in the shadow. Can you imagine what kind of life it is to live? In the shadows people see you as happy and free. Because that’s what you want them to see. Living two lives, happy, but not free. …But life is short, and it’s time to be free. Love who you love, because life isn’t guaranteed. Smile.”

Robin Roberts presented Carter with the award. 

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Jay-Z told David Letterman on his Netflix special that he knew his mother was gay, but they never really discussed it until last year, when he was working on 4:44. The following day, he recorded his mother for the album.

“For her to sit in front of me and tell me, ‘I think I love someone…’ I mean, I really cried,” Jay-Z said during the special. “That’s a real story. I cried because I was happy for her that she was free.”

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