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

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

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

Today, the whole world 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 Ca.

Rivera ended up being a hugely talented performer, whom 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 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 for people in the community that is LGBTQ+ numerous will even keep in mind Rivera being an ally when you look at the truest feeling of your message, whom represented us on tv whenever few other programs had been happy 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. It was into the belated noughties, lower than a ten years following the ending of Section 28, which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in UK schools. Gay wedding wasn’t legal yet. The first ever broadcast of a lesbian intercourse scene when you look at the reputation for tv were held simply six years prior to the very first period of Glee, and relating to Amber Benson (whom played Tara on Buffy The Vampire Slayer) having the system to also consent to a same-sex kiss previously ended up being “like pulling teeth”. This arrived at the same time whenever Buffy and Spike had been merrily shagging their way around secluded graveyards – there was clearly a huge and clear disparity between the way in which right and homosexual partners had been depicted when you look at the news.

Meanwhile, you can easily count the wide range of queer females featuring on main-stream television shows on one side. In britain we’d Emily and Naomi from Skins, plus in the usa, watchers had Ellen Degeneres, and Samantha Jones experimenting for a few Intercourse additionally the City episodes because of the heavily stereotyped artist that is brazilian Diega Reyes.

Naya Rivera was a supply of convenience for most queer fans of ‘Glee’. Credit: Getty

And where there is bigger media representation, it had been usually limited by more niche LGBTQ+ shows just like the L term, glucose Rush, and Lip Service – hugely important programs, however with a difference that is key we had to actively look for them down. These programs had been also predominantly white. Queerness ended up being something which had been repressed and whispered about into the main-stream; as soon as we saw ourselves reflected, it absolutely was frequently belated at evening aided by the amount refused, one little finger anxiously poised on the television remote’s energy switch all of the time. Glee, on the other hand, had on average 10.11 million audiences at its top in appeal. The most, it reached their parents, friends, and grandparents – all watching the show next to them on the sofa besides reaching the queer people who arguably needed a character like Santana. As a new gay kid who was simply scared shitless during the concept of ever being released, 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 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 get a get a cross her. A lot of her most readily useful barbed remarks can nevertheless be recited from memory. “How is it possible to do 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 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 may well not occur without her.

The actor studied classics like Mean Girls for inspiration and brought comic timing to every line without a talent like Rivera, Santana might’ve just ended up being another bitchy TV cheerleader, but in this case. And behind her steely exterior, it constantly felt like Santana ended up being keeping part of by herself back – in season two, Rivera explored her kinder, more side that is vulnerable and behind the scenes, pressed for Santana’s relationship with Brittany you need to take more really. Initially, it absolutely was conceived as a brief punchline.

“It began off as this funny small thing, like “oh yeah she simply randomly shacks up with her friend Brittany, ” Rivera explained. “But I became sort of encouraging them making it much more serious and never mess around along with it ‘cause you can find individuals on the market it’s perhaps not a tale to. It’s their genuine lives”. She comprehended that she could truly achieve something significant rather.