Gloria Carter, JAY-Z’s mom, was honored at the 29th edition the GLAAD Media Awards. The philanthropist received the Special Recognition Award for her fortitude that was recorded on her son JAY-Z’s “Smile” melody from his 4:44 album that shared his mother Gloria Carter’s experience as a lesbian and acceptance his mother’s identity.
The track, which features a sample Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s in Need Love Today,” details Gloria’s coming-out story from the perspective her son. “Mama had four kids but she’s a lesbian/Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian,” Hov raps before adding, “I cried tears joy when you fell in love/Doesn’t matter to me if it’s a him or her.”
“Love gave me the courage to take the power that I allowed other people to have over my life for fear them revealing my secret that wasn’t really a secret,” she said during her speech, which was preceded by Robin Roberts’ introduction. “Here I am. I’m loving, I’m respectful, I’m productive. And I’m a human being who has a right to love who I love.” Filmmaker Ava DuVernay and actor Samira Wiley were also honored that same night.
GLAAD’s president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement that Carter’s willingness to open herself up to her son and the world allowed for deeper, more meaningful conversations about the intersections race and sexuality.
“By sharing her truth with the world, Gloria Carter increased visibility lesbian women color at a critical time and sent a powerful message empowerment to the entire LGBTQ community,” Ellis said. “Her story and the unconditional love that her family exhibits resonate with so many. The GLAAD Media Awards will be a critical platform to honor her work and further this important message.”