JAY-Z’s Mother Accepts A GLAAD Media Award & Reminds All To Smile (Video)

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4:44 stands as JAY-Z’s most personal album to date. The work revealed a lot about himself, his marriage and family life, and also, his relationship with his mother as a lesbian parent. While Gloria Carter introduced and was referenced in “December 4th” on 2003’s The Black Album, Jay had not spoken publicly of his mom’s sexuality anywhere before 4:44. Ms. Carter appeared on the 4:44 track “Smile,” closing it out by describing how trapped she felt by her sexuality.

On Saturday night (May 5), Gloria Carter accepted the Special Recognition Award at the 2018 GLAAD Media Awards in New York City for her words on “Smile.” Her speech after receiving the hardware is proof that JAY-Z comes from great stock.

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“For me, this was the first time that I spoke to anyone about who I really am,” she said of her appearance on “Smile.” “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. I was happy, but I was not free.” Carter also devoted a lot of the speech to her partner, who she says helped her free herself from “the shadows.”

“Love gave me the courage to take the power that I allowed other people to have over my life for fear of them revealing my secret that wasn’t really a secret. Here I am,” she continued. “I’m loving, I’m respectful, I’m productive, and I’m a human being who has a right to love who I love. So everybody, just smile, be free.”

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On “Smile,” Gloria Carter echoed a lot of the same sentiments she did in her GLAAD speech. During the song she said: “The world is changing and they say it’s time to be free / But you live with the fear of just being me / Living in the shadow feels like the safe place to be / No harm for them, no harm for me / But life is short, and it’s time to be free / Love who you love, because life isn’t guaranteed / Smile.

JAY-Z himself described the moment he had his first conversation with his mother about her sexuality. During an interview with David Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction Netflix show, he shared the emotions he felt at the time.

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“I mean, I really cried. I cried because I was so happy for her that she was free,” he described. “[This was] the first time I heard her say she loved her partner. Like, ‘I feel like I love somebody.’ She said ‘I feel like.’ She held that little bit back, still,” he revealed to Letterman. “And I just, I cried. I don’t even believe in crying because you’re happy. I don’t even know what that is. What is that?”