Thursday, July 09, 2020

Forever Naya

Oh, Naya. I truly don’t know what to say at the news of her probable drowning yesterday after a day boating with her 4-year-old son. It’s so unspeakably sad. As of this moment, they have transitioned from a rescue to a recovery mission. We can continue to hope, but the truth is we have likely lost someone very special.

It’s not hyperbole to say Naya helped to change the world as Santana Lopez. She definitely saved lives. While all the articles I’ve read about her tragic incident so far have made mention of her role on “Glee,” most fail to mention the importance of her character to LGBTQ youth and those not-so young across the globe.

Sure, Kurt Hummel was the immediate gay breakout star. But Santana’s journey reflected that of so many queer women, especially young women. Her love for Brittany, her realization of her sexuality, her struggle to coming out (well, outing), her happily ever after.

I have been involved in a few fandoms in my day, but the Brittana fandom remains extraordinary because it’s one of the first massive, mainstream shipping fandoms just for lesbian, bisexual and queer women where we also actually saw them realized on screen. (Yes, yes – of course Willow and Tara remain an O.G., don’t worry.)

And, what made it even more cherished is that fans essentially willed it into existence. What started as a throwaway line ended up with a wedding ceremony. The lesbian blogging community demanded Brittana happen, and it did. But that wouldn’t have happened without the support of the actresses themselves – Naya and Heather.

I had the incredibly good fortune to meet Naya, albeit briefly, at the GLAAD Media Awards in 2011. This was when Brittana was in full frenzy. She was so gracious and lovely. And, well, we all know Naya has always been a knockout.

Through it all, Naya played Santana with sass and vulnerability – a difficult combination under any circumstances, but she had to do it all while singing and dancing up an absolute storm. And her voice, well, it still cuts powerfully through space and time. Just thinking about her makes me want to rewatch all of her “Glee” performances. “Rumor Has It/Someone Like You,” “Me Against the Music,” “Valerie,” “Songbird.” Oh, God, “Songbird.”

The last thing she posted was photo of her with her young son titled, “Just the two of us.” May the world wrap him in love and peace. May her memory remind us that one person can still make a difference and touch lives they’ll never know. Life continues to be so very unfair and so terribly cruel. On days like today, it sure is hard to keep believing.

ETA: Naya's body was recovered Monday, July 13. Seven years to the day that her co-star Cory Monteith died from an accidental drug overdose. May her family and the young son she saved as her last act on this Earth find peace. Thank you, Naya. Rest in power.


linster said...


Carmen San Diego said...

Beautifully written. I’m so sad. The lesbian blogging community really did will Britanna to happen.
Go in peace, Naya, and thank you

FanFair11 said...

Thank you for this as usual wonderfully written tribute. Back in the hey[a]day of Britanna I deeply appreciated your humorous insightful advocacy for this couple and the real young women behind the characters. It’s comforting to return here to be brokenhearted with you and the other fandom members. And you are so right about Naya’s voice. Me, I’m haunted today by “If I Die Young”......

Stay safe, and thank you for speaking so eloquently for us one more time.

Sue Winter said...


Helena said...

Thank you for your beautiful words , it expresses what's in my heart. Stay safe Dorothy.

Mitch said...

Thank you so much for your beautiful tribute. I wish more people wrote about her support and advocacy of the LGBTQ community. Brittana and glee aired when I was coming out. I will be forever grateful to Naya. I was very sad to hear the news. Thanks for all your posts over the years.