Earlier this year, it was announced that JAY-Z would be honored at the 29th GLAAD Media Awards, with the organization commending him for his 4:44 track, "Smile," which reveals his mother's homosexuality. The first of two award ceremonies took place earlier this month in Los Angeles on April 12.
While the powerful and deeply personal song wasn't originally met with Gloria Carter's blessing, following its release, both she and her son have since reflected on the private conversation they shared that ended up turning into much more. As such, in addition to GLAAD praising JAY-Z for his lyrical prowess, Gloria herself will also be awarded with a Special Recognition Award onstage for her powerful coming-out story.
"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," JAY-Z raps on the now-critically acclaimed (and GRAMMY-snubbed) cut. "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."
Later, during the song's outro, Gloria can be heard echoing the sentiment her son expresses on the song, sharing her own perspective and adding, "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."
"Smile" is one of the most impactful moments on JAY-Z's 13th studio album, as well as is arguably one of his most personal songs he's released throughout his decades-long career.
As reported by Billboard, Gloria will also take to the stage to speak on the impact her decision to come out as a woman of color has had both on her own life and the world at large.
"By sharing her truth with the world, Gloria Carter increased visibility of lesbian women of color at a critical time and sent a powerful message of empowerment to the entire LGBTQ community," CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement to Billboard. "Her story and the unconditional love that her family exhibits resonate with so many. The GLAAD Media Awards will be a critical platform to honor her work and further this important message."
In addition, Ava DuVernay will also be accepting this year's Excellence in Media Award for her dedication to advocating for the intersectionality of race and sexual orientation in her work in entertainment. It has also been announced that actress Samira Wiley will receive the Vito Russo Award for bringing representation to each role she takes on.
The 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards will be held in New York on May 5.