Gloria Carter, JAY-Z’s mom, accepted a GLAAD Media Award for her part in creating his song “Smile,” and opened up about her journey to freedom coming out of the closet.
Carter was awarded a Special Recognition Award for the poetry she recited at the end of the song, Saturday. Her poem centers around her coming to terms with her sexuality.
During her acceptance speech, she revealed the creative process behind the song, and how her son reacted to her coming out as a lesbian.
“‘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,” she said. “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.’”
She said her life wasn’t “horrible,” but admitted being in the closet was stifling.
“I chose to protect my family from ignorance. I was happy, but I was not free,” she said.
Carter credits her partner with allowing herself to be open.
“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,” she continued.
“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.”
Check out her full speech below: