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

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

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

Today, the entire world recalls Naya Rivera. Best 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 performer that is talented 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 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 people of the community that is LGBTQ+ numerous will even keep in mind Rivera as an ally within the truest feeling of your message, 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 fellow cheerleader Brittany was genuinely groundbreaking – for most young adults growing up as Glee aired, Rivera played the initial lesbian character they’d ever seen on television, complete end. It was into the belated noughties, significantly less 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 a lesbian intercourse scene into the reputation for tv were held simply six years ahead of the very first period of Glee, and based on Amber Benson (whom played Tara on Buffy The Vampire Slayer) getting the community to even consent to a same-sex kiss previously had been “like pulling teeth”. This arrived at any given time whenever 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 were depicted within the news.

Meanwhile, you might effortlessly count the amount of queer ladies featuring on conventional television shows on one hand. In the united kingdom we had Emily and Naomi from Skins, as well as in the united states, audiences had Ellen Degeneres, and Samantha Jones experimenting for a few Intercourse as well as the City episodes aided by the heavily stereotyped Brazilian musician Maria Diega Reyes.

Naya Rivera ended up being a supply of comfort for most queer fans of ‘Glee’. Credit: Getty

And where there is larger media representation, it absolutely was usually limited by more niche LGBTQ+ shows such as the L term, glucose Rush, and Lip provider – hugely important programs, however with a difference that is key we had to earnestly look for them away. These programs had been additionally predominantly white. Queerness ended up being something which ended up being repressed and whispered about into the main-stream; as soon as we saw ourselves reflected, it absolutely was usually late at evening using the amount rejected, one little finger anxiously poised on the television remote’s energy switch all of the time. Glee, having said that, had on average 10.11 million watchers at its top in popularity. Besides attaining the queer those who perhaps needed a character like Santana the absolute most, it reached their moms and dads, friends, sex chat rooms and grandparents – all viewing the show close to them in the couch. As a new homosexual kid who had been scared shitless in the notion of 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 quips that are razor-sharp anybody whom dared to get a get a cross her. A lot of her most useful barbed remarks can be recited from memory. “How is it possible to execute 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 lesbian character free from the typical tired stereotypes. Turn on the television now, and you’ll see countless other queer figures whom are indebted into the foundations she set down: Riverdale‘s Cheryl Blossom, to mention one character who may well not occur without her.

Without having 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 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 punchline that is brief.

“It began off as this funny small thing, like “oh yeah she simply arbitrarily shacks up together with her buddy Brittany, ” Rivera explained. “But I became sort of encouraging them making it more severe and never 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 attain one thing undoubtedly significant rather.