JAY-Z’s Mom Gloria Carter Surprised By Positive Response To ‘Smile’

JAY-Z may have 21 Grammy Awards to his credit, but now he and his mother share a special honor from GLAAD.

Gloria Carter

Gloria Carter was on hand to accept a special recognition award at the 29th annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on Saturday. She and JAY-Z were honored for “Smile,” a track off his 4:44 album that addressed her publicly coming out as gay.

“I didn’t realize how we touched so many lives,” she told PEOPLE ahead of the ceremony. “I’m just glad that I can inspire people.”

Carter was presented with the award by another prominent gay woman, Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts.

“I accept it with pride and joy on behalf of my son and myself. Thanks to my family for loving me unconditionally, no matter what. Thanks to my partner, for loving me and helping me free myself from being in the shadows. Thanks to you, to all the people whose lives I touched, for your support, by just telling my truth,” Carter said.

“‘Smile’ became a reality because I shared with my son who I am. Not that people didn’t know; I was just someone they didn’t talk about but they loved me anyway. But for me, this was the first time that I spoke to anyone about who I really am. My son cried and said, ‘It must have been horrible to live that way for so long.’”

She added, “My life wasn’t horrible, I chose to protect my family from ignorance. I was happy but I was not free.”

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