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On the track, which was featured on his Grammy-nominated 2017 album 4:44, Jay opens up about the moment when his mother came out to him. “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,” he raps. “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.”
During his interview with David Letterman on the Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, Jay admitted that he already knew his mom was gay, but the two had only recently gotten to the point where Gloria came forward with her truth. “I knew [that she was gay], but this was the first time we had the conversation, the first time I heard her say she loved her partner,” he recalls. “She said, 'I feel like I love somebody.' … And I just started crying."
In her discussion on the D'USSE Friday podcast, Gloria remembers how her son reacted to her revelation, and how it inspired him to make the track. “Besides your mother, this is the person that I am. This is the life that I live,” she said. “So my son started actually tearing. ‘Cause he’s like, ‘That had to be a horrible life, Ma’. I was like, ‘My life was never horrible. It was just different.’ So that made him want to do a song about it.”
In addition to inspiring Jay to make the song, Gloria delivers a powerful spoken word at the end of “Smile” where she reflects on it all. The GLAAD Media Awards will be held on May 5 at the New York Hilton Midtown.