Last summer, JAY-Z's mom, Gloria Carter, publicly came out as a lesbian on the track "Smile" on Jay's critically praised album "4:44."
And on May 5, Gloria was honored at the GLAAD Media Awards in New York City with a special recognition award for inspiring and contributing to Jay's song. She delivered a moving, emotional speech in which she spoke about her revelation and the love and support she's felt from her son since she told him the truth about her sexual identity, Page Six reported.
"I must thank God because without him, none of this would be possible. Thank you, GLAAD, for this recognition award. I accept it with pride and joy on behalf of my son and myself. Thanks to my family for loving me unconditionally no matter what," Gloria began after being presented with the award by "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts, who is also gay.
"Thanks to my partner for loving me and helping me free myself from being in the shadows," she continued, adding, "Thanks to you, to all the people whose lives I touched, for your support by just telling my truth."
Gloria told the crowd that "Smile" became a reality "because I shared with my son who I am," she explained. "Not that people didn't know. I was just someone that they didn't talk about but they loved me anyway. But for me that was the first time I spoke to anyone about who I really am. My son cried and said, 'It must have been horrible to live that way for so long.'"
But, she added, "My life wasn't horrible — I chose to protect my family from ignorance. I was happy but I was not free."
Everything changed when she met her partner, she shared. "Then one day, I met someone that made my heart sing. Made me no longer what to sneak a peep at them but actually look at them with loving eyes," Gloria 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 that wasn't really a secret."
She concluded her emotional speech, "Here I am. I'm loving. I'm respectful. I'm productive. And I'm a human a being who has the right to love who I love. So everybody, just smile, be free."
Gloria received a standing ovation. She shared a table at the award ceremony with a woman identified by photographers as Roxanne Wilshire, who blew her a kiss while she was on stage — as well as ABC's Robin and the journalist's longtime partner, Amber Laign.
On "Smile," Jay 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 / 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."
Gloria also appears on the track, on which she says, "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 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 / Smile."
Jay spoke lovingly about his mother in an interview on "My Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman" that aired in April, saying that he'd long known she was gay but that it meant the world to him when she sat down and told him.
"For her to sit in front of me and tell me, 'I think I love someone,' I mean, I really cried," Jay told David. "That's a real story. I cried because I was so happy for her that she was free."