When Jay-Z published 4:44 last year, millions of listeners heard the story of the rapper's mother, Gloria Carter: After hiding her sexual orientation most of her life, Ms. Carter recounted Recently her son was in love with another woman. The conversation brought Jay-Z to tears and led to "Smile", which includes a rousing outro from the mother of the rapper. "Love who you love," she says about the song, "because life is not guaranteed."
Ms. Carter repeated this message on Saturday evening at the GLAAD Awards at New York's Hilton Midtown, where she was honored for her role in Smile. "I'm a person who has the right to love who I love," Ms. Carter told a grateful crowd. "Just smile and be free."
"Smile" was not a single on Jay-Z's album, but it became one of the LP's most talked about tracks. When the rapper recently appeared on the show My next guest needs no introduction "Smile" was the song David Letterman had asked for. "I was so happy for her that she was free," said Jay-Z.
Good Morning America Robin Roberts introduced Carter to the GLAAD Awards, praising her for "start [ing] a global conversation [about lesbian women of color] that has helped countless women." "It gives the courage of a mother whose lives have been surrounded by stigma and financial challenges, "Roberts continued. "This mother looks into her child's eyes, and in this case, this child is being hugged and raised by a community that traditionally does not accept LGBTQ people." She says, "Son, that's me." that does not accelerate acceptance, what is? "
During a short speech read by handwritten notes -" I'm old school, "joked Mrs. Carter – Jay-Z's mother remembered the conversation that lit the song. ", Smile & # 39; became reality because I shared with my son who I am," she explained. "For me, this was the first time I ever talked to anyone about who I really am, and my son cried and said, 'It must have been terrible to live that long. & # 39;
"My life was not terrible," Carter said. "I decided to protect my family from ignorance, I was happy, but I was not free."
She said she was moved to join Jay-Z when she fell in love with her current partner. "One day I met someone who made my heart sing – no longer let me take a look at them, but looked at them with loving eyes," Ms. Carter explained. "Love gave me the courage to take the power I gave to other people in my life, for fear that they could reveal a secret that was not really a secret."
She ended her speech with a series of emphatic statements. "Here I am," she said. "I love, I am respectful, I am productive, and I am a person who has a right to love what I love, so everyone: just smile, be free, thank you and bless God."  Woman. Carter was one of several winners at the GLAAD Awards, along with actress Samira Wiley ( Orange is the new black man The story of the maid ) and the director Ava DuVernay ( Selma A Wrinkle in Time ). The event was hosted by Ross Mathews – "Happy Cinco de Gay-o!" He said – as well as appearances by top 40 hitmaker Justin Tranter, who is auctioning two songs to raise $ 44,000 for GLAAD, and singers Adam Lambert and Melissa Etheridge, who are a duet of "I'm the Only One." Lambert sang with gentle grace, while Etheridge attacked every line with her typical gritty bite. After completing the performance with acrobatic vocal exercises, Etheridge said to the crowd, "That was as funny as it looked."
DuVernay was the last laureate of the night and the most powerful speaker. "I thank my LGBTQ comrades for your struggle, for your resilience, for your defiance, for your boldness, for your dignity, for your self-confession," said DuVernay. "… in the words of Audre Lorde, when we speak, we fear that our words will neither be heard nor welcomed, but if we remain silent, we are still afraid, so it is better to speak."