At the 29th
Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on May 5, Ms.
Gloria Carter accepted a Special Recognition Award on
behalf of her son, JAY-Z for the song 'Smile' off of
his album 4:44.
The award was presented to her by Robin Roberts,
host of ABC's Good Morning America. The video is
available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEy-NNzcY2Y&feature=youtu.be .
In her speech, Carter discussed
the impact that coming out has had on her family and
countless others around the globe. She also told of
the love and support she received from her family.
She further said: “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.”
Ross Mathews hosted the 29th Annual
GLAAD Media Awards in New York City which included a
duet from LGBTQ icons Adam Lambert and Melissa
Etheridge. Samira Wiley received the Vito Russo
Award from co-star Alexis Bledel and Ava DuVernay
received the Excellence in Media Award from her
Senator Cory Booker. Presenters during the event
included Tituss Burgess, Laverne Cox, Lea Michele,
Nyle DiMarco, Asia Kate Dillon, Nico Tortorella and
stars of NBC's Rise.
In the song 'Smile,' Jay-Z, tells of
his mother’s struggles and of his unwavering love
and support for her: “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. Cried tears of joy when you fell in love.
Don't matter to me if it's a him or her. I just
wanna see you smile through all the hate.”
Carter lent her voice to “Smile”
during the outro, powerfully stating: “Living in the
shadow. Can you imagine what kind of life it is to
live? In the shadows people see you as happy and
free. Because that's what you want them to see.
Living two lives, happy, but not free. You live in
the shadows for fear of someone hurting your family
or the person you love. 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.
She also discussed her coming out to
her son in an interview with the D'EUSSE Friday
podcast following the release of “Smile.” “I just
finally started telling Jay who I was. Besides your
mother, this is the person that I am. This is the
life that I live.’ So my son started actually
tearing. He’s like, ‘That had to be a horrible life,
ma.’ I was like, my life was never horrible. I was
never ashamed of me.”
“Smile” sparked global conversation about lesbian
women of color. In an interview with David Letterman
for his Netflix show My
Next Guest Needs No Introduction,
Jay-Z reflected: “Imagine having lived your life for
someone else. And you think you're protecting your
kids. And for my mother to have to live as someone
that she wasn't and hide and, like, protect her kids
— and didn't want to embarrass her kids, and you
know, for all this time."
Carter also cofounded the Shawn
Carter Foundation with her son. The Shawn Carter
Foundation supports initiatives to empower youth and
communities in need through the Foundation’s
programs: Scholarship Fund, College Prep and
Exposure to HBCUs, International Exposure,
Professional Development, Scholar Support and
Community & Goodwill Programs.
"By sharing her truth with the world,
Gloria Carter increased visibility of lesbian women
of color at a critical time and sent a powerful
message of empowerment to the entire LGBTQ
community,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President
and CEO. “Her story and the unconditional love that
her family exhibits resonate with so many.”
The 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards
are presented by Delta Air Lines, Gilead, Ketel One
Family-Made Vodka, and Wells Fargo. The GLAAD Media
Awards recognize and honor media for their fair,
accurate, and inclusive representations of the LGBTQ
community and the issues that affect their lives.
The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD's work to
amplify stories from the LGBTQ community and issues
that build support for equality and acceptance.