It’s been nine months since former Glee star Naya Rivera passed away, and during the 2021 GLAAD Awards — which the actor hosted twice during her career — her former castmates came together to pay her a moving tribute.
Introducing the segment was Demi Lovato, who appeared alongside Rivera in the show. Rivera played Santana Lopez, a member of the Glee Club who came out as a lesbian in the third season of the show. Lovato had a recurring role as her girlfriend in Season 5.
“I will always cherish the chance I got to play Naya’s girlfriend, Dani, on Glee,” the singer says in the clip above. “The character Naya played, Santana Lopez, was groundbreaking for closeted queer girls like I was at the time. And her ambition, and accomplishments, inspired Latina women all over the world. That’s the power of a show like Glee. And LGBTQ youth, you have power too. Follow GLAAD now, and get involved in activism. Let’s use our power to move the equality act forward.
“It’s been 10 years since Santana Lopez came out. Look at what LGBTQ teens have done in a decade. Imagine what we can do in the next one.”
Lovato then introduces a number of Rivera’s former Glee castmates via video link, who reminisce about their time on the show with her, and the legacy that she left behind.
Rivera was reported missing last July after taking a boat out on California’s Lake Piru with her four-year-old son. The boat was discovered with him sleeping alone in it, and a search and rescue operation for Rivera was launched. She was confirmed dead on July 13 at the age of 33.