Recalling Naya Rivera: an intense skill and a trailblazer for LGBTQ+ representation

The 'Glee' star will leave behind a enormously effective legacy, and a generation of queer fans to who she offered hope

Today, the whole world remembers Naya Rivera. Most widely known for her breakout part as Santana Lopez in Glee, the actress, singer and model died aged simply 33, at Lake Piru in Southern Ca.

Rivera ended up being a hugely talented performer, whom brought joy and her razor- sharp feeling of humour to numerous things she did. Through the parody anti-yeast illness commercial that she filmed as an element of her part in Glee, to her change being a visitor judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Naya Rivera had been a force of comedy in specific. As well as for users of the community that is LGBTQ+ numerous will even remember Rivera as an ally when you look at the truest feeling of your message, whom represented us on tv when few other programs had been ready to get here.

Naya Rivera as Santana Lopez in ‘Glee’. Credit: Alamy

Santana Lopez’s on-screen love with other cheerleader Brittany had been genuinely groundbreaking – for several teenagers growing up as Glee aired, Rivera played the initial lesbian character that they had ever seen on television, complete end. It was into the belated noughties, lower than a decade following the ending of Section 28, which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in British schools. Gay wedding wasn’t yet that is legal. The first ever broadcast of the lesbian intercourse scene into the reputation for tv occurred simply six years ahead of the very first period of Glee, and in accordance with Amber Benson (whom played Tara on Buffy The Vampire Slayer) having the system to also consent to a same-sex kiss previously ended up being “like pulling teeth”. This arrived at the same time when Buffy and Spike had been merrily shagging their method around secluded graveyards – there is a massive and disparity that is clear the way in which right and homosexual partners had been depicted into the news.

Meanwhile, you might effortlessly count the quantity of queer ladies featuring on main-stream television shows on one hand. In britain we'd Emily and Naomi from Skins, plus in the united states, people had Ellen Degeneres, and Samantha Jones experimenting for a few Intercourse therefore the City episodes with all the heavily stereotyped artist that is brazilian Diega Reyes.

Naya Rivera ended up being a way to obtain convenience for a lot of queer fans of ‘Glee’. Credit: Getty

And where there was bigger media representation, it absolutely was often limited by more niche LGBTQ+ shows such as the L term, glucose Rush, and Lip provider – hugely important programs, however with a vital distinction: we needed to earnestly look for them down. These programs were additionally predominantly white. Queerness ended up being something which ended up being repressed and whispered about into the conventional; whenever we saw ourselves reflected, it absolutely was frequently belated at evening with all the amount rejected, one little finger anxiously poised on the television remote’s energy switch all the time. Glee, having said that, had on average 10.11 million people at its top in appeal. The most, it reached their parents, friends, and grandparents – all watching the show next to them on the sofa besides reaching the queer people who arguably needed a character like Santana. As a new homosexual kid who had been scared shitless in the concept of ever being released, Rivera’s character provided me personally genuine hope.

And Santana – the hilarious expert in smarting one-liners and ponytail flicks that she is – was one of Glee’s most readily useful characters. Captain of McKinley High’s Cheerios, she is at once terrifying, and terrifically witty, snarling razor-sharp quips at anyone whom dared to cross her. Several of her most useful barbed feedback can be recited from memory. “How are you able to do a duet on your own? ” she asks Kurt at one rehearsal. “That’s like vocal masturbation”. Much like the groundbreaking film But I’m A Cheerleader, Rivera depicted a character that is lesbian from the most common tired stereotypes. Turn on the television now, and you’ll see countless other queer figures whom are indebted to your foundations she set down: Riverdale‘s Cheryl Blossom, to call one character whom may well not occur without her.

The actor studied classics like Mean Girls for inspiration and brought comic timing to every line without a talent like Rivera, Santana might’ve just ended up being another bitchy TV cheerleader, but in this case. And behind her steely exterior, it constantly felt like Santana ended up being holding part of by by herself straight straight back – in season two, Rivera explored her kinder, more susceptible part, and behind the scenes, pressed for Santana’s relationship with Brittany you need to take more really. Initially, it absolutely was conceived being a brief punchline.

“It began off since this funny thing that is little like stripchat cams “oh yeah she simply arbitrarily shacks up along with her buddy Brittany, ” Rivera explained. “But I became sort of encouraging them to really make it much more serious rather than mess around that it’s not a joke to with it‘cause there are people out there. It’s their genuine lives”. She comprehended that she could truly achieve something significant alternatively.