Jay-Z's Mom Gloria Carter Accepts GLAAD Award: 'I Was Happy, But I Was Not Free'

On Saturday night, at the 2018 GLAAD Media Awards in New York City, Jay-Z’s mom Gloria Carter took home a Special Recognition Award for her contribution to her son’s 4:44 track, “Smile,” which concludes with his mother performing spoken word for the song’s outro. Her poetry addresses sexuality head on and, as she described in her speech, allowed her to come out publicly with lines like: “Living in the shadow/Can you imagine what kind of life it is to live?” and “Love who you love, because life isn’t guaranteed/Smile.”

During her acceptance speech over the weekend, Carter referenced those words with gratitude, stating, “Thanks to my partner, for loving me and freeing me from being in the shadows.” She continued:

“‘Smile’ became a reality because I shared with my son who I am, not that people didn’t know. I was just someone they didn’t talk about but they loved me anyway. But, to me, this was the first time that I spoke to anyone about who I really am. My son cried and said, ‘It must’ve 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. Then, one day, I met someone that made my heart sing, that made me no longer want to sneak a peek at them, but actually look at them with loving eyes.

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. 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.”


Watch the full video above, and call your mom.

Senior Writer, Jezebel. My first book, LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands from NKOTB to BTS, is out now. It is also very good.

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I cried watching this. Good call by GLAAD.