In an emotional new interview with David Letterman, Jay-Z confessed he cried tears of joy when his mother came out as gay.
“Imagine having to live 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 … you know, for all this time,” he poignantly told the talk-show host on “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.”
“For her to sit in front of me and tell me, ‘I think I love someone’ — I mean, I really cried. That’s a real story. I cried because I was so happy for her that she was free.”
Jay-Z admitted he already knew his mother, Gloria Carter, was attracted to the opposite sex. However, it wasn’t until he was working on his 2017 album, “4:44” — just eight months ago — that they actually discussed it. She also told him she was in love, which really made the rapper emotional.
“This was the first time we had the conversation,” he continued, “and the first time I heard her say she loved her partner. Like, ‘I feel like I love somebody.’ She said, ‘I feel like.’ She held that little bit back still. She didn’t say ‘I’m in love,’ she said ‘I feel like I love someone.’ And I just — I cried. I don’t even believe in crying because you’re happy. I don’t even know what that is. What is that?”
The next day, Jay-Z “made” his song “Smile.” It was on the track that Gloria, through her son’s words, came out to the world. “Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian / Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian,” Jay-Z poetically raps in the song. “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.”
After Jay-Z’s lyrics, Gloria added her own moving monologue about “living in the shadows” and how she feared coming out would hurt her family and loved ones. “The world is changing, and they say it’s time to be free,” she adds. “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.” Goosebumps, right?
This isn’t the first time Jay-Z has been totally real about his feelings. After the release of his album, he confessed to T Magazine that therapy changed his life for the better — and ultimately got him in touch with his emotions.
“I grew so much from the experience,” he said. “But I think the most important thing I got is that everything is connected. Every emotion is connected, and it comes from somewhere…. The strongest thing a man can do is cry. To expose your feelings, to be vulnerable in front of the world. That’s real strength. You know, you feel like you gotta be this guarded person. That’s not real. It’s fake.”
Yep, real men totally cry. And Jay-Z is not the only stereotypically “manly man” to open up about his feelings: Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) recently chose to get vulnerable about his own mental illness struggles. And guess what? He pretty much won the internet.
We totally support men who are brave enough to admit they have feelings, and judging from the public reaction to men like as Jay-Z and Johnson getting totally real about their emotions, most of the world does too.
Jay-Z’s full interview with David Letterman will premiere globally Friday, April 6, on Netflix.
Read more: How 13 Celebrity Couples Keep Their Relationships Healthy
What Do YOU Think?
Were you moved by Jay-Z’s interview about his mom’s sexuality? Do you wish more men could be so open and OK with crying? Why do you think there is still such a stigma surrounding emotions when it comes to many men?