Jay Z and Mother, Gloria Carter
Jay Z has opened up about his mother’s very public coming out.
The rapper, real name Shawn Carter, dedicated a track on album 4:44 to his mother, Gloria Carter – which also served as her official coming out.
In the track, titled Smile, Jay Z raps while his mother reads a poem about hiding her sexuality for years.
He raps: “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.”
The rapper opened up about what inspired the track this week in an interview for David Letterman’s new Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.
He said: “Imagine having lived your life for someone else, and you think you’re protecting your kids. For my mother to have to live as someone that she wasn’t and hide and protect her kids… and didn’t want to embarrass her kids, you know, for all this time.
“For her to sit in front of me and tell me ‘I think I love someone’/ I mean, I really cried. That’s a real story. I cried because I was so happy for her that she was free.
“This happened eight months ago, when the album was being made. She just told me, and I made the song the next day. ”
He added: “This was the first time we had the conversation. And 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. She didn’t say ‘I’m in love,’ she said, ‘I feel like I love someone.’
“I just cried. I don’t even believe in crying because you’re happy. I don’t even know what that is. What is that?”
Beyoncé’s other half has since been honoured with an LGBT award for the track.
It was announced in January that GLAAD would present “a Special Recognition Award for Jay Z’s song and music video ‘Smile’ featuring his mother Gloria” at the upcoming GLAAD awards.
The GLAAD Media Awards honour media for their fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of the LGBTQ community and the issues that affect their lives.
GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said: “What people see in the media has a powerful impact on how they treat others and the GLAAD Media Awards raise the bar for media to tell LGBTQ stories that accelerate acceptance.
“At a time when anti-LGBTQ policies and harassment are on the rise, it is imperative that Hollywood and news media tell more LGBTQ stories that reflect the community’s rich diversity – and build understanding that brings all communities closer together.
“This year’s nominees showcase stories that span races, genres, ages, and geographies, challenge misconceptions, and broaden understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ people across the globe.”
Gloria Carter recently opened up about coming out to her son and the process of making the song.
She said: “The song came about because I was sitting there one day, and I just finally started telling [my son] who I was; Besides your mother, this is the person that I am. This is the life that I’ve lived.
“My son started actually tearing. He’s like, ‘that had to be a horrible life, ma’.
“I said, ‘my life was never horrible. It was just different.’
“That made him want to do a song about it, and the first time I heard the song, I was like, ‘no dude, I a’int feeling that. I was sharing myself with you, not with the world, I don’t know whether I’m ready for that’.
“We talked about it and we talked about it, and I was going out to see him, and I said, I’m going to help him. We’re gonna do this. I wrote [my verse] while I was on the plane, going out to LA.
“I gave it to him, and he said ‘start reading this’, and he was taping me!”