Gloria Carter gave a powerful speech about her experience coming out to her son, JAY-Z, as she accepted a special award on behalf of her son at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on Saturday.
Carter, who famously came out as a lesbian in her son JAY-Z's 2017 song, "Smile," kept her sexuality a secret from the public until the 48-year-old rapper's 4:44 album last year. In accepting the award on Saturday on behalf of herself and her son, Carter recalled the moment when she first told JAY-Z that she is gay.
"My son cried. He said, 'It must have been horrible to live that way so long.' My life wasn't horrible. I chose to protect my family from ignorance. I was happy, but I was not free," Carter said. "Then one day, I met someone that made my heart sing. Made me no longer want to sneak a peep at them, but actually look at them with loving eyes."
She choked back tears as 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," she said. "Here I am. I am loving. I am respectful. I am productive. And I am a human being who has a right to love who I love. So everybody, just smile, be free. Thank you and God bless."
The beautiful sentiment echoed her message on JAY-Z's song.
"Living in the shadow feels like the safe place to be. No harm for them, no harm for me," she says on the track. "But life is short, and it's time to be free. Love who you love, because life isn't guaranteed. Smile."
For another intimate look at JAY-Z's life, watch the video below.