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July 16, 2020

Remembering Naya Rivera's Legacy as an LGBTQ Icon on TV

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Naya Rivera, the "Glee" star who died in a drowning accident in Lake Piru after saving her son, will be best remembered as an LGBTQ trailblazer and a gifted actress.

Naya Rivera played the role of Santana Lopez in the hit TV show "Glee." Not only did she play the role of a gay character on the TV show but she was also a proud ally for the LGBTQ community. 

On July 8, Rivera was reported missing while she was boating on Lake Piru with her 4-year-old son, Josey. Her body was recovered by the California lake on July 13. 

Naya Rivera at the Los Angeles premiere of "Judy" on September 19, 2019, in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images

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NAYA WAS A TRAILBLAZER

Rivera, who is best known for her role as a gay high school cheerleader in "Glee," is well-respected in the industry for representing the queer community on the small screen. 

In the wake of her tragic death, thousands of fans took to Twitter to mourn the actress and to praise her for all that she did to empower LGBTQ people. 

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One of the fans shared why "Glee" meant a lot to them because of the inclusiveness the show showed by portraying an LGBTQ relationship on screen, writing:

"Growing up, Glee meant a lot to me because Santana and Brittany's relationship was the first time that I had ever viewed LGBT representation in the media."

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Many other fans opined that Rivera portrayed the character beautifully and empowered people to accept who they are. They also praised her for pushing her character's storyline. 

NAYA WAS A TRAILBLAZER

Rivera empowered more people than she could have ever imagined. Her character Santana first started out as a feisty high school girl and eventually came in terms with her sexuality over the six seasons. 

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Fans saw Rivera grow as she continued to openly embrace her identity as a Latina woman in Hollywood.

Rivera even penned a love letter to the LGBT community once. In the letter for "Billboard," she shared how fortunate she felt to have had the opportunity to portray a character so loved by the LGBTQ community. 

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Fans saw Rivera grow as she continued to openly embrace her identity as a Latina woman in Hollywood. In her 2016 memoir "Sorry Not Sorry," she candidly detailed her mental health journey and shared how she overcame an eating disorder as a teen. 

Rivera also supported the "Black Lives Matter" movement this year in the wake of George Floyd's brutal death. Her grandma, who protested for civil rights in the 60s, was an advocate for human rights and she called her her "hero."

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