GLAAD has announced that the cast of Glee will reunite during the 32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards virtual ceremony on Thursday, April 8 for a special tribute to the legacy of the late Naya Rivera’s character Santana Lopez. The tribute will honor the 10-year anniversary of Santana’s coming out as lesbian in the GLAAD Media Award-winning series and spotlight the character’s impact on LGBTQ teens and Latinx LGBTQ representation on television.
Demi Lovato, who played one of Santana’s girlfriends on the hit series, will introduce the special tribute, which will feature Glee cast members Jacob Artist, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Vanessa Lengies, Jane Lynch, Kevin McHale, Heather Morris, Matthew Morrison, Alex Newell, Amber Riley, Harry Shum Jr., Becca Tobin, and Jenna Ushkowitz.
Rivera was one of the original cast members, appearing in nearly every episode in its entire six season run. Her role started as more of the angry, sharp tongued Latina cheerleader, but evolved into a queer icon, after coming out and dating fellow cheerleader, Britney. But what spoke to the Latino community, was an episode that featured Santana coming out to her mom (played by Gloria Estefan), who openly accepts her, and her religious abuela (played by Yvonne Coll), who crushes her by rejecting her and asking her to leave.
The character Rivera played was huge for Latinx representation, and it was a role she carried proudly until her untimely death.
Rivera died unexpectedly in an accidental drowning at Lake Piru, CA last July. She had taken her 4-year-old son out on a pontoon boat, and they jumped in for a swim together. She mustered her strength to save her son, but could not save herself.