LGBT+ community mourns the death of 'Glee' star Naya Rivera

Naya Rivera broke down barriers for queer representation with Santana on Glee, a legacy for which she will always be remembered.

Naya Rivera
Image: Mike Ownsby

Almost a week after Naya Rivera went missing while out on a boat with her son, police have confirmed she has been found dead following an extensive search operation.

The Glee star’s 4 year-old son was discovered on the boat wearing a life vest and appeared to be “unharmed”.

Rivera’s character Santana on Ryan Murphy’s Glee trailblazed queer representation in mainstream media.

This was something Rivera took seriously and she embraced the outpouring of love for Santana. Following the announcement that Rivera was missing, countless queer people shared their story of how her character helped them.

On Twitter user shared:

“As a closeted queer kid, Santana is the only representation I remember having. Naya Rivera was so so important to me. I know I’m not alone, and I hope she knew how many people felt this way.

Comedian Carolyn Bergier shared:

“I watched Glee solely for Santana. For a wildly flawed show, it did a great job showing the real struggles of being queer in high school. Santana’s sexuality transformed her from a one-dimensional villain to one of the best characters on the show. Naya Rivera played it perfectly.”

Writer Jill Gutowitz expressed her gratitude to Naya saying:

“I’m so saddened and disturbed by the news of Naya Rivera. Naya meant so much to so many queer women my age. her character on ‘glee’ awakened a generation repressed. thank you, Naya.”

Naya Rivera hosted the GLAAD Awards twice. In paying tribute to Rivera, GLAAD said she was “kind, gracious, and personally used her platforms and voice to tell LGBTQ youth that they are loved. Our hearts are with her loved ones.”

Following the news of Rivera’s passing her former Glee co-stars have led tributes on social media.

Demi Lavato, who played Rivera’s girlfriend on the show shared on Instagram:

“RIP Naya Rivera. I’ll forever cherish the opportunity to play your girlfriend on Glee,

“The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted queer girls (like me at the time) and open queer girls, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world,” she continued.

A smiling young woman with dark hair and perfect makeup

In closing, Demi wrote, “My heart goes out to your loved ones at this time.”

“How can you convey all your love and respect for someone in one post? How can you summarize a decade of friendship and laughter with words alone? If you were friends with Naya Rivera, you simply can’t,” Chris Colfer wrote. “Her brilliance and humour were unmatched. Her beauty and talent were otherworldly. She spoke truth to power with poise and fearlessness.”

He added, “She could turn a bad day into a great day with a single remark. She inspired and uplifted people without even trying. Being close to her was both a badge of honour and a suit of armour. Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be. Sending all my love to her wonderful family and her beautiful son.”

“She was bold. She was outrageous. She was a LOT of fun. Naya made me laugh like no one else on that set,” Darren Criss expressed. “I always said it while we were working together and I’ve maintained it ever since. Her playful, wicked sense of humour never ceased to bring a smile to my face. She played by her own rules and was in a class of her own.”

“I also always loved her voice, and savoured every chance I got to hear her sing. I think she had more talent than we would have ever been able to see,” he continued. “I was constantly moved by the degree to which she took care of her family, and how she looked out for her friends. She showed up for me on numerous occasions where she didn’t have to, and I was always so grateful for her friendship then, as I certainly am now.”

He closed, “And even as I sit here, struggling to comprehend, gutted beyond description- the very thought of her cracks me up and still brings a smile to my face. That was Naya’s gift. And it’s a gift that will never go away. Rest in peace you wild, hilarious, beautiful angel.”

“Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family,” Jane Lynch wrote.

Police have explained that an autopsy will be conducted to confirm Naya’s cause of death.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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