Writing is how I process things. It’s how I try to make sense of my emotions in the moments when the tears won’t come or when I can’t stop them from flowing. Monday was one of the “can’t stop the tears” kinda days, as I struggled to cope with loss and reflect on how much the world has changed in the past decade.
Glee came out when I was in college. I, sadly, didn’t come out while I was in college. But, in spite of that, what helped me not feel so alone, what helped me grapple with the big, consuming feelings that I could barely acknowledge to myself, was watching someone else go through an experience that had made me feel so isolated and lonely that sometimes, I felt like I was living on my own planet.
Santana Lopez was that person for me. I can still remember the hopeful bubble that expanded in my stomach when the first, meant to be throwaway, line between Brittany and Santana was uttered. I’ve watched that scene dozens of times. I wanted to know what it meant. I latched onto it with ferocity, clinging to hope that it meant more.
I joined Twitter so that I could live tweet the show using the #gaysharks hashtag. I religiously read Heather Hogan’s weekly reviews to pluck out every ounce of nuance and meaning that I may have missed during my awestruck reverence of Naya Rivera’s portrayal.
Glee is why I got into reading fanfiction. It’s why I set up my first profiles on lesbian media sites. It’s why, in the darkness of the night in my bedroom, I escaped into a story I wasn’t ready to tell myself yet.
My life moved on from Glee in the following years, when I had the courage to come out, to move across the country, and to meet someone to share my life with.
Even when I developed new obsessions, like #juliantina from the Mexiacan telenovela Amar a Muerte, I spent the first few paragraphs of my love letter to them talking about the importance of my original OTP, #brittana.
Because without Santana Lopez, and without the path she, and Naya Rivera paved, I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
I am so devastated by the loss of Naya Rivera, and I hope she knew what an impact she made on a generation of young queer women, of what it meant to see themselves reflected back in a story that not only held power, but gave power to those looking for light in the darkness.