JAY-Z and Gloria Carter

JAY-Z's Mother Comes Out as Lesbian on 'Smile'

  /  06.30.2017

On his just-released 13th studio album 4:44, JAY-Z makes several revelations, including his mother’s sexuality.

On the first verse of “Smile,” JAY-Z celebrates his mom Gloria Carter as a lesbian. “Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian,” he raps on the No I.D.-produced track. “Had to pretend so long, that she’s a thespian / Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate / Society’s 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.”

On the song’s outro, JAY’s mom — who previously appeared on The Black Album’s “December 4th” — shares her personal journey. “Living in the shadow,” she says. “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.”

As the poem continues, she empowers others to come out from “the shadows” as well. “Living in the shadow feels like the safe place to be,” she adds. “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. Smile.”

Following the song’s release, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) praised Gloria Carter for coming out to the public. “Lesbian women are all too often erased or excluded from narratives surrounding LGBTQ people,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “By sharing her truth with the world, Gloria Carter is increasing visibility of lesbian women of color at a critical time and sending a powerful message of empowerment to the entire LGBTQ community that is perfectly timed with the end of Pride Month.”

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