Exactly just just How Naya Rivera Became an Icon for the LGBTQ Community (Guest Column)

Naya Rivera will be remembered in headlines being a “former Glee celebrity, ” but to countless queer ladies just like me throughout the world, she’s got been and certainly will often be much more. Her unexpected tragic death, verified Monday, has delivered a revolution of profound sadness across that which was as soon as a captivating and vital fandom. And it’s really a reminder simply how much it means once the those who portray LGBTQ figures become fierce advocates for the really exact same community.

Rivera’s Glee character, Santana Lopez, had been constantly written become damaging — the smoking cheerleader that is hot the razor-sharp wit and bitch-with-pom-poms mindset. But over the course of the show’s six periods, she became a beacon to lesbian, bisexual and questioning fans, especially young Latinx and Ebony fans, several of whom had been seeing themselves onscreen for the time that is first. Now her death devastates us yet again.

Her character’s development from the show has also been evidence of the charged energy of fandom during the early times of social media marketing. In reality, she might have never become this kind of icon that is queer it. Make no blunder, us fans willed the onscreen relationship into presence between Rivera’s Santana and her friend that is best and other cheerleader Brittany S. Pierce (played by Heather Morris).

Whenever Glee premiered in ’09, the series that is musical a sensation right out of the choir space. And — like most all-singing, all-dancing show choir worth its jazz arms — it had a cast of figures manufactured from effortlessly identifiable and simple to spot with archetypes: the delicate jock, the singing Tracy Flick, the bullied homosexual teenager, the rowdy bad child, the diva-in-training and much more.

While homosexual and bisexual male fans straight away discovered their champ in Kurt Hummel (played by Chris Colfer), queer feminine fans had been in the beginning just content to see Jane Lynch camp it as coach-from-Hell Sue Sylvester. Then again, into the 13th bout of that very first season, a throwaway line established a fandom that is entire. The episode, titled “Sectionals, ” had Glee Club people conferring for a seminar call (this is before Instagram ended up being devised, so nobody could slip into anybody’s DMs yet).

Kurt advised Santana began a rumor because he thought she ended up being dating the individual included. She responded with, “Intercourse just isn’t dating. ” Her constant friend Brittany concurred, “If it had been, Santana and I also would be dating. ” Then everybody else took a beat, three moments pass, and it’s really forgotten.

But also for queer fans of this show, that has been it. The very next episode, an additional throwaway line, Brittany informs Santana ” Do you realize that dolphins are only homosexual sharks? ” together with remainder is internet history. Straight away, shippers dubbed Santana and Brittany “Brittana” and also the hashtag #gaysharks was created.

Each Brittana fans would breathlessly live tweet using the #gaysharks hashtag week. In the midst of the age that is golden of recapping, queer ladies’ media internet web sites from Autostraddle to AfterEllen offered weekly recaps associated with the show, centering on Santana and Brittany’s relationship and pressing to allow them to turn into a canon few.

However in Brittana, fans could just do more than want their faves would be genuine. They are able to, and did, demand it from show creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan — mainly by bombarding them on Twitter. It helped that Rivera and Morris encouraged the partnership, publishing cryptic tweets and later on full-on cheerleading for the cheerleading couple’s relationship.

Ten months later on, four episodes to the show’s 2nd period, fans had been rewarded aided by the first onscreen “sweet woman kisses” (well, type of nuzzles) involving the two.

In performing this, Brittana became one of the primary massive, main-stream femslash fandoms for queer and questioning women where we additionally surely got to start to see the relationship noticed onscreen. Yes, there have been other people before (Willow and Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena and Gabrielle on Xena Warrior Princess being early pioneers). But this isnot only on a cult show, this is for a significant community show showcased regarding the address of glossy activity publications.

From that point on, fans obsessed over every look, therefore much so that the show composed us to the plot, referencing the “lesbian writer bisexual porn videos community” among other recommendations. Team #gaysharks also did not keep back once they thought the Brittana relationship was handed quick shrift or, when it comes to Santana’s being released (or even more accurately outing as a result of quarterback Finn Hudson — played because of the belated Cory Monteith), disrespected.

When you look at the Brittana tale and fandom, queer viewers discovered not merely a sound but in addition energy. Those who work into the LGBTQ community have actually very long been familiar with dining dining table scraps in terms of representation in main-stream tales. Yes, things have actually gotten progressively better throughout the years and a character exposing her, their or their sex isn’t any longer the stuff of really Special Episodes.

But through Twitter as well as other social media marketing, we discovered a tangible solution to petition for just what we would desired all along — completely knew relationships between two out female characters who have been (into the parlance of fandom) endgame. While right partners have actually countless pairings that are romantic choose from onscreen, queer ladies were still awaiting their cheerfully ever afters. The onscreen set fundamentally hitched in a joint wedding because of the show’s queer male couple, Kurt and Blaine, within the last period.

Nevertheless, homosexual stories onscreen constantly pack more punch once the actors playing the figures help the LGBTQ community. Rivera never ever shied far from her queer feminine fandom or Brittana’s onscreen relationship. Her embrace of her lesbian, bisexual and queer people ended up being never ever under consideration. She went to (and hosted) the GLAAD Media Awards and talked call at interviews.

While her depiction of Santana might have been simply your standard mean woman, she provided it layers and nuance. Fans could see on their own in her own initial protective cruelty, that was actually masking a key about herself. Latinx audiences felt her heartbreak whenever her abuela rejects her after being released.

Her journey from closeted to out-and-proud mattered at the same time when had been desperately fighting for many of the very most basic LGBTQ civil legal rights. Glee arrived regarding the fresh atmosphere before wedding equality ended up being legislation of this land, and went from the atmosphere months prior to the Supreme Court affirmed it in Obergefell v. Hodges. And simply this year, LGBTQ individuals finally won the proper to not be fired for just being whom our company is.

It isn’t hyperbole to express Rivera’s depiction of Santana Lopez spared everyday lives. It really changed everyday lives. The greater amount of individuals in marginalized communities see by by themselves completely reflected onscreen, the less alone we feel in addition to richer the global globe becomes because of it.

So now many of us are devastated by her loss. The sadness we feel settles slowly, like a fog us is suddenly gone as it has always done when someone who once meant so much to. Listed here is a skilled, compassionate girl that has much more to give. But still, inside her reported act that is last this planet of raising her 4-year-old son to the security associated with the boat — this woman is nevertheless saving everyday lives. So that as new generations of queer females find Santana Lopez through the full years, she’s going to continue changing the whole world for the greater.