Jay-Z’s joy about his mom being openly LGBTQ is a good sign for hip-hop and masculinity.
In a ridiculously heartwarming interview clip, rapper Jay-Z discussed his excitement for his mom’s newfound lesbian love.
In David Letterman’s new series “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,” Jay-Z sat down with the comedian to talk candidly about his mother, Gloria Carter, coming out to him as a lesbian.
“This was the first time we had the conversation,” Jay-Z said in a clip of the interview set to air April 6. “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?”
Jay-Z’s tearful response to his mother’s coming out experience is a much-needed example of publicly dismantling toxic masculinity.
Often told that emotions aren’t masculine or that crying isn’t for men, many men struggle to openly express their emotions, much less recognize them. Toxic masculinity is a pervasive, dangerous societal problem that forces men into a hole of fear, making them reluctant to share their emotions for fear of not being seen as “man enough.” By acknowledging he cried tears of joy, Jay-Z is adding a welcome change to the narrative that men, especially men of color, can’t be both emotional and masculine.
Jay-Z’s openness to his mother’s later-in-life queerness in lyrics and on-screen is also refreshing from someone so prominent in the hip-hop industry.
Having been a pretty early advocate for gay rights, Jay-Z’s views are still fairly unique to his industry. For decades, hip-hop artists have been using extremely homophobic lyrics and have often been extremely exclusionary to queer artists. But world-renowned artists like Jay-Z, Common, and Frank Ocean are using their own personal experiences to change the narrative of how queerness is viewed in the hip-hop industry. Through their own music, activism, and public interviews, many hip-hop artists are starting to show respect for queer love and rights. In the song “Smile” on Jay-Z’s most recent album “4:44,” the rapper talks about how long his mother hid her identity:
“Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian / Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian.”
By sharing his mom’s story so lovingly, Jay-Z shows that homophobia is outdated, masculinity should be so much more than bottling up emotions, and people deserve the most love, respect, and openness we can give them.
Though the clip definitely is a tease for more, it certainly paints a promising picture for hip-hop artists and their relationships with queer people in the future. We’ll enjoy that for now.