Rowling has faced criticism for her remarks on trans women. (Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Naya Rivera tributes from LGBTQ fans pour in amid disappearance

she says. “When I’m with Brittany, I finally understand what people are talking about when they talk about love. I’ve tried so hard to push this feeling away and keep it locked inside but every day feels like a war. I walk around so mad at the world but I’m really just fighting with myself and I don’t want to fight anymore. I’m just too tired. I have to just be me.”” data-reactid=”18″>“I love girls the way that I’m supposed to feel about boys. It’s something that’s always been inside of me and I really want to share it with you because I love you so much and I want you to know me — who I really am,” she says. “When I’m with Brittany, I finally understand what people are talking about when they talk about love. I’ve tried so hard to push this feeling away and keep it locked inside but every day feels like a war. I walk around so mad at the world but I’m really just fighting with myself and I don’t want to fight anymore. I’m just too tired. I have to just be me.”

Heather Morris, as Brittany, and Naya Rivera, as Santana, during the “Wedding” episode of Season 6. (Photo: FOX Image Collection via Getty Images)

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Rivera’s disappearance has many in the LGBTQ community expressing how much her portrayal of Santana Lopez meant to them personally. For some, it was the first lesbian character they saw on TV. For others, she was the first lesbian Latina, or the first gay character to have a real storyline.

she is responsible for making me feel safe and secure in my own skin/sexuality. i could never repay her for all of the courage she’s given me. so, i must use this courage to have faith in her strength and determination. i know so many people can relate to this, so don’t give up.

— totally heterosexual (@SLSHIEFBRAY) July 10, 2020

Santana Lopez was the first lesbian character I had seen on tv. I had seen gay characters but not lesbian. She helped me understand who I am and accept myself. Her character and journey meant so much to me so thank you Naya Rivera you impacted my life for the better.

— 𝐌𝐚𝐝𝐬 (@sapphicbabes) July 10, 2020

seeing naya rivera as santana was so important to me, watching a lesbian character develop through storylines where we weren’t the butt of the joke, where we thrived, where we had love and respect… i owe so much of my confidence as a gay woman to glee + santana, this is so sad

— Foxgluvv 💗 (@foxgluvv) July 9, 2020

One woman credited Rivera’s Santana with awakening “a generation repressed.”

“In high school, I desperately grasped for anything that could help me understand who I was and what my feelings meant. Santana Lopez gave me something to hold onto, tightly,” another woman added.

I’m tweeting this for her little boy. I’m tweeting this for her parents. I’m tweeting this for her costars. I’m tweeting this for her friends. I’m tweeting this for the queer kids Naya helped. Kids like me. I’m tweeting this for her. You’re not alone. 💔 #NayaRivera #FindNaya pic.twitter.com/xQPmj42dsN

— Liz Anya (@ElizabethBannes) July 10, 2020

One Twitter user shared a screenshot of a touching conversation she had with her brother over why Rivera’s disappearance is so devastating.

Many others expressed similar sentiments.

naya rivera playing santana lopez was the reason i was able to come out of the closet & be who i am. she made me realize being gay is ok & there’s nothing wrong with it. naya was happy to play santana, bc she knew she’d be able to help people like me as santana. she changed me 🙁 pic.twitter.com/RjwD6Zj05m

— mea’s ☆ goni (@gonilovebot) July 9, 2020

So to hear that Naya is missing is like missing a part of me? Always tragic when an idol passes but it feels so different b/c she directly changed my life. I never would’ve realized I was a lesbian without Naya, let alone accepted it. She saved my life but I can’t save hers 2/3

— s.m🥀 (@SHAYMAKO) July 9, 2020

Naya Rivera is one of my favourite actors.
Santana was the first gay representation I saw that i related with and fell in love with on screen and shown me you can be a lesbian and thrive.
My heart is breaking hearing what’s happened and I really hope she’s found. pic.twitter.com/XgCh4cyAE1

— Oli – commissions open👽🌈 (@BelowAverageGay) July 9, 2020

separating character from person naya rivera inspired so many young girls struggling with their sexuality, including myself. seeing myself represented on a screen, as a gay latina, was pivotal in my life. praying for her & her family https://t.co/UzLrbyhwbM

— jenifer (@jeniferr_11) July 10, 2020

naya rivera literally saved my life. she saved countless lives with the beloved character she played. we will never be able to repay her for what she did for the lgbtq community. naya is the definition of a true ally and for that i’ll always be immensely grateful.

— ellie (@agronroberts) July 10, 2020

made me feel right at home with exactly who I am. I saw my family life, my language, my affinity for women…I saw myself and what I saw was beautiful and badass.

I am praying so hard for Naya’s rescue. No person deserves to depart this soon, and with her young son being found?!

— PC 🎪 (@jodiefostering) July 9, 2020

While an investigation is ongoing, Captain Eric Buschow from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office told reporters they have enough information to conclude Rivera “never made it out of the water.” He added “that the focus of our search efforts are in the water at this time.” 

hosted the GLAAD Media Awards and even auctioned off “sweet lady kisses.”” data-reactid=”55″>It wasn’t just Rivera’s character that made such an impact on the LGBTQ community, as she was an ally in real life, too, having hosted the GLAAD Media Awards and even auctioned off “sweet lady kisses.”