Gloria Carter, Jay-Z’s mother, is to be honoured with a GLAAD Media Award after she came out as a lesbian on one of her son’s records.
The American rapper, real name Shawn Carter, dedicated a track on album 4:44 to his mother, on which she very publicly came out.
On the track, titled “Smile,” Jay 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.”
Now Carter is to be honoured for raising the visibility of lesbian women of colour.
GLAAD’s president Sarah Kate Ellis announced that the star’s mother will be recognised with a Special Recognition Award for her coming-out story at the upcoming awards.
She said: “By sharing her truth with the world, Gloria Carter increased visibility of lesbian women of colour at a critical time and sent a powerful message of empowerment to the entire LGBTQ community.
“Her story and the unconditional love that her family exhibits resonate with so many.
“The GLAAD Media Awards will be a critical platform to honour her work and further this important message.”
Jay-Z has also opened up about the track, and how his mother inspired him.
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.’
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“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?”
Gloria Carter opened up about coming out to her son and the process of making the song in an interview last year.
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 ain’t 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!”