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The special tribute will be in honor of the 10th anniversary of Naya Rivera’s character, Santana Lopez, coming out on Glee 

By Ally Mauch
March 24, 2021 10:00 AM
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Glee cast
Glee cast
| Credit: FOX Image Collection via Getty

The Glee cast is coming together again to honor the late Naya Rivera and her character's lasting legacy.

The former costars — including Amber Riley, Jane Lynch, Jenna Ushkowitz, Kevin McHale, Heather Morris, Matthew Morrison, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Jacob Artist, Vanessa Lengies, Alex Newell, Harry Shum Jr. and Becca Tobin — will reunite at the 32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards on April 8.

Following an introduction from Demi Lovato, the group will honor LGBTQ teens and Rivera's character, Santana Lopez. The special tribute comes the same year as the 10th anniversary of Santana's coming out on Glee

Amber Riley; Naya Rivera
Naya Rivera and Amber Riley on Glee
| Credit: FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

Santana started as a William McKinley High School mean girl, but she evolved over the six seasons as she came to terms with her sexuality. Santana came out in the 2011 episode "I Kissed a Girl" after developing feelings for best friend Brittany Pierce (Morris). (Lovato also played one of Santana's girlfriends on the series.)

Following Rivera's death, Morris, 34, opened up about the importance of her and Rivera's subsequent onscreen relationship, which is often considered a groundbreaking example for LGBTQ representation in television. 

"I don't need to explain what the importance of Santana and Brittany's relationship was to all of you who are watching, because most of you felt like it was your gateway into your current life. Most of you felt like it was an inspiration to become your best self," Morris said in an Instagram video in August.

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"I want you to know that that was never lost on me," she continued. "It was never lost on Naya. We both knew how special that was. I think she knew a little bit more than I did. I really felt it a lot later with all the messages and all the people reaching out. And I knew the writers also knew that as well. They were basically writing for the fans."

Naya Rivera; Heather Morris
Credit: FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

Rivera died in July at age 33 as a result of a drowning accident after she and her son Josey, now 5, rented a boat at Lake Piru in Southern California.

When the boat became overdue for return after its three-hour rental, the staff at the lake found the vessel at the north side of the lake with the star's sleeping son aboard. Rivera's body was found five days later, and authorities believe the actress and singer died saving Josey.

After her death, many of Rivera's Glee costars mourned the loss on social media. Several of them also gathered at the lake where she drowned to honor her.

The 32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards, hosted by Niecy Nash, will air April 8 at 8 p.m. ET on YouTube; it will also be available to stream on Hulu starting at 10 p.m. ET.