Having a close relative come out of the closet can be an emotional rollercoaster for some. Even if you’ve suspected a family member of being gay but haven’t gotten round to discussing it with them and having them confirm your suspicions, it gets quite awkward when they finally come out. Close-minded people will, of course, disown and denounce a loved one as soon as they find out they are gay, wanting no association with the “unnaturals” and queers.
For others, it doesn’t change anything and they continue to offer their love and support. Because after all, the fact that you are just finding out that a person is attracted to people of the same sex does not suddenly make them a monster undeserving of love and empathy. They still remain the same people you loved and tolerated.
The biggest betrayal for a gay person must be when they gather enough courage to come out of the closet expecting that those they are coming out to will be supportive and understanding, only for them to turn around to bash and vilify them for trusting them with their secret. That is why most people just lurk in the closet. The consequences of coming out are mostly not worth it.
When you have people who are enlightened, open-minded and have a certain level of exposure to the world, it is easier to be who you are without having to deal with the myopia of homophobes. Such is the case with American rapper Sean Carter aka Jay-Z and his mother, Gloria Carter. After bearing four kids and living a lie for so many years, she finally admitted to her son that she had been gay all along but felt she had to keep it a secret to protect her children.
His reaction? And Jay-Z wept. And he didn’t shed tears out of shame or embarrassment for having a gay mother, but because he was so happy that she was “free”. He addresses this moment in his song Smile off the 4:44 album. “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.”
Talking about his mother on “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction”, the rapper said that he had known for a long time that his mother was gay but they had never really talked about it till eight months ago when he was recording the album 4:44. “I knew. But this was the first time we had the conversation,” Jay-Z said. “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?”(Tears of joy, Jay) “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… for all this time. For her to sit in front of me and tell me, ‘I think I love someone’. I mean, I really cried.”