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

The ‘Glee’ star departs behind a legacy that is enormously powerful and a generation of queer fans to whom she offered hope

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

Rivera was a hugely talented performer, whom brought joy and her razor- sharp sense of humour to a lot of things she did. Through the parody anti-yeast disease commercial that she filmed included in 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 particular. As well as users of the LGBTQ+ community, numerous will even keep in mind Rivera being an ally into the truest feeling of the phrase, whom represented us on tv whenever few other programs had been prepared 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 young adults growing up as Glee aired, Rivera played initial lesbian character they had ever seen on television, complete stop. This is into the noughties that are late significantly less than 10 years following the ending of Section 28, which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in British schools. Gay wedding wasn’t legal yet. The ever that is first of the lesbian intercourse scene into the reputation for tv were held simply six years ahead of the very very very first period of Glee, and based on Amber Benson (whom played Tara on Buffy The Vampire Slayer) having the community to even accept a same-sex kiss previously ended up being “like pulling teeth”. This arrived at a time when Buffy and Spike had been merrily shagging their method around secluded graveyards – there was clearly an enormous and clear disparity between the way in which right and homosexual partners had been depicted within the media.

Meanwhile, you can effortlessly count the wide range of queer females 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 a few Intercourse together with City episodes aided by the heavily stereotyped artist that is brazilian Diega Reyes.

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

And where there is bigger media representation, it absolutely was frequently restricted to more niche LGBTQ+ shows such as the L term, Sugar Rush, and Lip provider – hugely important shows, however with an integral huge difference: we needed to earnestly look for them away. These programs were additionally predominantly white. Queerness had been something which ended up being repressed and whispered about into the main-stream; whenever we saw ourselves reflected, it absolutely was frequently belated at evening aided by the amount refused, one finger anxiously poised on the TV remote’s energy button all of the time. Glee, having said that, had on average 10.11 million watchers at its top in appeal. Besides achieving the queer those who perhaps required a character like Santana the absolute most, it reached their moms and dads, buddies, and grandparents – all viewing the show close to them regarding the couch. As a new homosexual kid who had been scared shitless during the notion of xxxstreams. com ever developing, Rivera’s character provided me personally hope that is genuine.

And Santana – the expert that is hilarious 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 get a get a cross her. Nearly all her most useful comments that are barbed nevertheless be recited from memory. “How are you able to do a duet all 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 typical tired stereotypes. Activate the television now, and you’ll see countless other queer figures whom are indebted to your fundamentals she set down: Riverdale‘s Cheryl Blossom, to call one character whom might not occur without her.

With out a skill like Rivera, Santana might’ve simply finished up being another bitchy television cheerleader, however in this situation, the actor learned classics like suggest Girls for motivation and brought comic timing to each and every line. And behind her steely exterior, it constantly felt like Santana had been keeping part of by herself straight straight 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. Originally, it had been conceived as a punchline that is brief.

“It began off as this funny thing that is little like “oh yeah she simply arbitrarily shacks up together with her buddy Brittany, ” Rivera explained. “But I happened to be sort of encouraging them making 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 real lives”. She comprehended that she could truly achieve something significant rather.