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

The ‘Glee’ star departs behind a extremely effective legacy, and a generation of queer fans to who she provided hope

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

Rivera ended up being a hugely talented performer, whom brought joy along with her razor- razor- sharp feeling of humour to a lot of things she did. Through the parody anti-yeast illness commercial that she filmed included in her part in Glee, to her change as a visitor judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Naya Rivera ended up being a force of comedy in particular. As well as for people of the community that is LGBTQ+ numerous will even keep in mind Rivera being an ally within the truest feeling of the phrase, whom represented us on tv whenever 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 most teenagers growing up as Glee aired, Rivera played the very first lesbian character that they had ever seen on TV, full end. This is into the belated noughties, lower than ten years following the ending of Section 28, which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in British schools. Gay wedding wasn’t yet that is legal. The ever that is first of the lesbian intercourse scene into the reputation for tv occurred simply six years ahead of the very first period of Glee, and relating to Amber Benson (whom played Tara on Buffy The Vampire Slayer) having the community to also consent to a same-sex kiss previously ended up being “like pulling teeth”. This arrived at any given time whenever Buffy and Spike were merrily shagging their means around secluded graveyards – there is a vast and clear disparity between the way in which right and homosexual partners had been depicted when you look at the news.

Meanwhile, you might effortlessly count the wide range of queer ladies featuring on main-stream television shows on one hand. In the united kingdom we’d Emily and Naomi from Skins, plus in the usa, audiences had Ellen Degeneres, and Samantha Jones experimenting for two Intercourse in addition to City episodes because of the heavily stereotyped Brazilian musician Maria Diega Reyes.

Naya Rivera had been a supply of comfort for most queer fans of ‘Glee’. Credit: Getty

And where there is bigger media representation, it absolutely was frequently limited by more niche LGBTQ+ shows just like the L term, glucose Rush, and Lip provider – hugely important programs, however with a vital distinction: we had to earnestly look for them down. These programs had been additionally predominantly white. Queerness had been a thing that had been repressed and whispered about into the main-stream; whenever we saw ourselves reflected, it absolutely was frequently belated at evening because of the amount rejected, one finger anxiously poised on the television remote’s energy key all the time. Glee, having said that, had on average 10.11 million watchers at its top in appeal. Besides achieving the queer individuals who perhaps required a character like Santana the absolute most, it reached their moms and dads, buddies, and grand-parents – all viewing the show close to them in the settee. As a new homosexual kid who was simply scared shitless during the concept of ever being released, Rivera’s character provided me personally genuine hope.

And Santana – the expert that is hilarious smarting one-liners and ponytail flicks that she is – was one of Glee’s most useful characters. Captain of McKinley High’s Cheerios, she is at once terrifying, and terrifically witty, snarling quips that are razor-sharp anyone whom dared to get a cross her. A lot of her most useful barbed feedback can nevertheless be recited from memory. “How is it possible to execute 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 who are indebted towards the fundamentals she set down: Riverdale‘s Cheryl Blossom, to call one character whom might not occur without her.

With no talent like Rivera, Santana might’ve just finished up being another bitchy television cheerleader, however in this case, the actor learned classics like suggest Girls for motivation and brought comic timing to every line. And behind her steely exterior, it constantly felt like Santana ended up being keeping an integral part of by by by herself back – in season two, Rivera explored her kinder, more side that is vulnerable and behind the scenes, forced for Santana’s relationship with Brittany you need to take more really. Initially, it absolutely was conceived as being a brief punchline.

“It began off since this funny thing that is little like “oh yeah she simply arbitrarily shacks up along with her friend Brittany, ” Rivera explained. “But I became sort of encouraging them to really make it much more serious and never mess around along with it ‘cause you can find individuals available to you so it’s maybe not bull crap to. It’s their genuine lives”. She comprehended that she could truly stripchat. com achieve something meaningful instead.