Legendary producer and rapper Jay-Z has spoken out about the powerful moment his mother first came out to him as a lesbian woman.
The star’s mom, Gloria Carter, only opened up about her sexuality and her identity to her son last year.
Speaking to David Letterman on the Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, Jay-Z, 48, revealed that it was a deeply emotional experience.
“For my mother to have to live as someone that she wasn’t and hide and protect her kids… and didn’t want to embarrass her kids, for all this time… and for her to sit in front of me and tell me, ‘I think I love someone,’ I mean, I really cried,” he told Letterman.
“I cried because I was so happy for her that she was free… I don’t even believe in crying because you’re happy. I don’t even know what that is. What is that?”
After their father abandoned the family, Jay-Z and his three siblings were brought up by Gloria as a single mother.
Jay-Z said he had known that she was lesbian but this was “the first time we had the conversation and the first time I heard her say she loved her partner”.
The conversation was immortalised in the track Smile, included in the musician’s most recent acclaimed hit album, 4:44.
Jay-Z said he created the song the day after Gloria came out, writing a series of heartfelt lyrics that affirmed his love for her: “Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian / Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian . . . Cried tears of joy when you fell in love / Don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her.”
In an interview with D’USSE last year, Gloria also discussed the conversation. “He actually started tearing because he was like, ‘That had to be a horrible life, Ma’,” she said. “And I was like, ‘My life was never horrible, it was just different.’ So that made him want to do a song about it.”
Jay-Z’s open support for his mother’s sexuality is another significant moment in breaking down the stigma and homophobia that has often plagued the hip-hop genre.
Married to superstar singer Beyoncé, Jay-Z is one of the best-selling musicians of all time, having sold more than 50 million albums and 75 million singles worldwide. He has won an astonishing 21 Grammy Awards.