Listening to Jay-Z’s album 4:44, one song stood out to me. Jay-Z wrote Smile the day after his mother, Gloria Carter, came out as lesbian. The track ends with his mother reciting a beautiful poem on living a double life to protect her family until she was free to be herself.
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