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

The ‘Glee’ star renders behind a legacy that is enormously powerful and a generation of queer fans to who she provided hope

Today, the planet recalls Naya Rivera. Most commonly 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, who brought joy and her razor- sharp feeling of humour to a lot of things she did. Through the parody anti-yeast disease 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 ended up being a force of comedy in specific. As well as for people in the LGBTQ+ community, many will even remember Rivera being an ally into the truest feeling of the phrase, who represented us on tv when few other shows 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 the initial lesbian character that they had ever seen on television, complete end. This is within the late noughties, lower than ten years following the ending of Section 28, which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in UK schools. Gay wedding wasn’t yet that is legal. The first ever broadcast of a lesbian intercourse scene when you look at the reputation for tv were held simply six years ahead of the first period of Glee, and in accordance with Amber Benson (whom played Tara on Buffy The Vampire Slayer) obtaining the community to also accept a same-sex kiss previously had been “like pulling teeth”. This arrived at the same time whenever Buffy and Spike were 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 within the news.

Meanwhile, you can effortlessly count the quantity of queer females featuring on conventional television shows on one side. In the united kingdom we’d Emily and Naomi from Skins, as well as in the US, audiences had Ellen Degeneres, and Samantha Jones experimenting for 2 Intercourse in addition to City episodes aided by the heavily stereotyped artist that is brazilian Diega Reyes.

Naya Rivera had been a way to obtain convenience for a lot of queer fans of live sex chat ‘Glee’. Credit: Getty

And where there is larger media representation, it absolutely was usually limited by more niche LGBTQ+ shows such as the L Word, glucose Rush, and Lip Service – hugely important shows, however with an integral huge difference: 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; as soon as we saw ourselves reflected, it absolutely was usually belated at evening because of the amount refused, one little finger anxiously poised on the television remote’s energy key all of the time. Glee, having said that, had on average 10.11 million audiences 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 watching the show close to them regarding the settee. As a new homosexual kid who was simply scared shitless during the concept of ever being released, Rivera’s character provided me 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 useful figures. 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 get a cross her. Several of her most readily useful comments that are barbed nevertheless be recited from memory. “How could you do a duet all on your own? ” she asks Kurt at one rehearsal. “That’s like vocal masturbation”. Just 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 TV now, and you’ll see countless other queer figures whom are indebted into the fundamentals she lay out: Riverdale‘s Cheryl Blossom, to mention one character whom might not occur without her.

With no 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 ended up being holding an integral part of by herself straight back – in season two, Rivera explored her kinder, more susceptible side, and behind the scenes, pressed for Santana’s relationship with Brittany you need to take more really. Initially, it had been conceived as a brief punchline.

“It began off as this funny small thing, like “oh yeah she just arbitrarily shacks up together with her buddy Brittany, ” Rivera explained. “But I happened to be sort of encouraging them making it more severe and never mess around along with it ‘cause you can find individuals available to you so it’s not bull crap to. It’s their genuine lives”. She comprehended that she could attain one thing certainly significant alternatively.