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  • Writer's picturegarrison gibbons

What Naya Taught Me

Naya Rivera’s role on Glee was one of the first fully fleshed out queer characters I saw on Primetime television.

While the show was camp, Naya’s character, Santana, was multi-dimensional. She struggled with her sexuality, often using insults and bullying as a coping mechanism. As Santana became more comfortable with her identity, her character became more confident vocally and even became a larger part of the show. Similarly, many queer people flourish and shine brighter after coming out. She wasn’t perfect in many ways and wasn’t the perfect queer person either — which made her all the more real.

As a queer teen in Mississippi, her story seemed much more familiar to me than most of the queer stories I saw on television. I identified with her. Her visibility helped me come out.

As a queer leader, I aim to be a role model. I push to be hyper-visible. I want others to see me and feel confident that they can achieve the things they want to in life.

Naya in some small way, helped me get here. It’s only fair I pass it on.

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