Right now, it feels wrong to go on and talk about anything else without talking about Naya Rivera first.

I don’t want to dwell too much on Naya’s death because that is not what she should or will be remembered for. But one thing we’re all certain on is that Naya being taken from this world is unfair. The circumstances in which she left this world are unfair. But she left this world doing the one thing we all know she would have done again and again; saving her child’s life.

When the news broke, it felt like it ricocheted across every corner of the world. Naya’s death has not only impacted those directly in her life, but every single person whose life she ever touched over the years. And that’s a lot of people.

Seeing the outpouring of love for Naya in the days since her death has been incredibly moving. It doesn’t go unnoticed that almost everyone who knew her has shined a light on the same attributes. She was a natural mother, a loving friend, a hysterical force, a champion for the unheard and so much more. On the surface you would assume that Naya’s undeniable talents were what made her so magnificent, but they were just another string to her bow. 

Now I did not know Naya personally but having grown up watching her, it really felt like I did. She reached out to us all not just through her role as Santana Lopez, but through her genuine care in the story she was portraying. If it wasn’t for Naya, I strongly believe that Brittana would not have been what they became.

Naya championed the relationship and urged the writers to take it more seriously and by doing that, she transformed thousands of lives. For most young LGBTQ+ viewers at the time, Brittana were one of, if not the, first queer pairings that they’d ever seen. Seeing their relationship grow was hugely comforting and provided a sense of hope and reassurance that was so desperately needed. Santana’s coming out arc in particular was extremely moving and acted as a catalyst for many to come out to their own families.

She is without a doubt one of the best LGBTQ+ characters that television has ever seen and beyond that, one of televisions greatest characters full stop. That isn’t just down to how her character was written either, that’s down to what Naya brought to the table. There is no one else on this planet that could have created what Naya did with Santana. She took the bitchy mean girl and turned her into one of the show’s most loving and well-loved characters. I believe that’s because over time, Naya left little pieces of herself in Santana and used her own light to help her shine.

All anyone wants to feel is visible. We want to feel like we matter. Naya gave every person she came into contact with, whether virtually or not, a voice. She became a part of all of us and because of that, her legacy will continue to live on.

One thing I’ve been particularly grateful for since July 8th is Naya’s voice. Whilst it’s painful that we will never hear more of it, it’s a blessing to have so many beautiful performances of hers to listen to and find comfort in. I vividly remember the feeling I had when listening to her sing ‘Songbird’ on Glee for the first time. That feeling has never changed in all the years that have passed since and I strongly believe it never will. To me, art is eternal and I hope that I get the privilege of being able to listen to her voice for as long as my life stretches. Long after that, her songs will be there for new generations to find solace in.

If I could say anything to Naya Rivera, it would be thank you. Thank you for sharing a piece of your soul with the world. Thank you for being there when it felt like there was nobody else to turn to. Thank you for teaching us all the importance of living life authentically. Thank you for being you, because you were spectacular.

To Naya’s friends and family; I cannot even begin to comprehend the loss that you are feeling. But please, know this: we will not forget her. I hope you are able to find some comfort in the knowledge that the incredible soul you were so lucky to have known is admired by so many. I strongly believe that she will be watching over you always.

To Naya Rivera; we will “always love you the most”. Thank you for leaving such a powerful legacy behind.