The second half of this year's GLAAD awards took place Saturday and one of the best moments in my mind was when Gloria Carter, mother of rapper Jay-Z, accepted a special award for herself and her son for the song, 'Smile.'
In the song 'Smile,' Jay-Z, tells of his mother’s struggles and of his unwavering love and support for her: “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.”
Carter lent her voice to “Smile” during the outro, powerfully stating: “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 they say 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.”
At the GLAAD awards, Ms. Carter spoke eloquently of love and acceptance. That enough was awesome, but the fact that it came from an older lesbian of color made the moment much better because they are the voices that we don't often hear from, but definitely need to.