GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today announced that Ms. Gloria Carter will accept the Special Recognition Award onstage at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York at the New York Hilton Midtown on Saturday, May 5. GLAAD previously announced that both Ava DuVernay and Samira Wiley would receive honors at the ceremony. Ross Mathews will host and special guests include Halsey, Alexis Bledel, Laverne Cox, Lea Michele, Tituss Burgess, Nyle DiMarco, Wrabel, Blair Imani, and Asia Kate Dillon.
The GLAAD Media Awards honor media for fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues. The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD’s work to accelerate acceptance of the LGBTQ community. The 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Delta Air Lines, Gilead, Ketel One Family-Made Vodka, and Wells Fargo.
Carter will accept a Special Recognition Award for “Smile” and speak about the impact coming out has had on her family and countless others around the globe. In the song 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.”
She also discussed her coming out to her son in an interview with the D’EUSSE Friday podcast following the release of “Smile.” “I just finally started telling Jay who I was. Besides your mother, this is the person that I am. This is the life that I live.’ So my son started actually tearing. He’s like, ‘That had to be a horrible life, ma.’ I was like, my life was never horrible. I was never ashamed of me.”
The song “Smile” sparked global conversation about lesbian women of color. In an interview with David Letterman for his Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, Jay-Z reflected: “Imagine having lived your life for someone else. And you think you’re protecting your kids. And for my mother to have to live as someone that she wasn’t and hide and, like, protect her kids — and didn’t want to embarrass her kids, and you know, for all this time.”
Carter also cofounded the Shawn Carter Foundation with her son. The Shawn Carter Foundation supports initiatives to empower youth and communities in need through the Foundation’s programs: Scholarship Fund, College Prep and Exposure to HBCUs, International Exposure, Professional Development, Scholar Support and Community & Goodwill Programs.
“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,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO. “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.”
Ava DuVernay will receive the Excellence in Media Award at the event for her intersectional advocacy. The Excellence in Media Award is presented to media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting LGBTQ acceptance. Previous Excellence in Media Award honorees include Robert De Niro, Kelly Ripa, Patti LaBelle, Debra Messing, Tyra Banks, Julianne Moore, Glenn Close, Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Billy Crystal, Vanessa Redgrave, and Diane Sawyer.
Samira Wiley will receive the Vito Russo Award during the ceremony for her work to bring heartfelt and moving LGBTQ portrayals to the screen. The Vito Russo Award is presented to an openly LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting LGBTQ acceptance and is named for Vito Russo, a founder of GLAAD and celebrated ACT UP activist, who pushed open the door for news and entertainment industries to include LGBTQ performers and stories.
GLAAD will announce the winners from the following GLAAD Media Award categories at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York: Outstanding Film – Wide Release, Outstanding Documentary, Outstanding Reality Program, Outstanding Music Artist, Outstanding Talk Show Episode, Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine, Outstanding TV Journalism Segment, Outstanding Newspaper Article, Outstanding Magazine Article, Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage, Outstanding Digital Journalism – Multimedia, Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine (Spanish Language), and Outstanding TV Journalism Segment (Spanish Language).