Updated on Jul 16, 2020. Posted on Jul 14, 2020

    Demi Lovato Opened Up About How Naya Rivera's "Glee" Character Helped Her As A "Closeted Queer Girl"

    "The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted queer girls (like me at the time) and open queer girls."

    Demi Lovato has posted an emotional tribute dedicated to Naya Rivera after her body was recovered from a lake following a search lasting five days.

    Emma Mcintyre / Getty Images

    Naya was first reported missing last Wednesday after renting a pontoon boat on Lake Piru with her 4-year-old son, Josey.

    Chris Delmas / Getty Images

    Josey was found, asleep and alone on the boat, wearing a lifejacket. He told investigators that they'd been swimming in the water and that Naya had pushed him up onto the boat before disappearing under the water. An adult's lifejacket, assumed to be Naya's, was also found on board, along with the actor's identification.

    On Thursday, the search was officially transitioned into a recovery operation by the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, with authorities revealing that it was believed Naya had drowned in a "tragic accident".

    On Monday, a body was found floating near the surface of the lake. Authorities revealed that, based on its condition and physical characteristics, as well as no other missing persons reported in the area, they were "confident" it was Naya.

    David Livingston / Getty Images

    Tributes to the star, who was best known for playing Santana Lopez on Glee, immediately poured in, with numerous costars from the show posting heartbreaking messages.

    Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family.

    Demi Lovato, who had tweeted prayers in the hope of finding Naya since her disappearance, also posted a tribute of her own, saying that she "cherished the opportunity" to play Naya's onscreen girlfriend back in 2013.

    In her message, Demi called Naya's Glee character "groundbreaking" for queer women, noting that at the time she herself hadn't yet come out.

    instagram.com

    In a 2017 interview, Demi opened up about her sexuality and confirmed that she identified as sexually fluid.

    "I'm very fluid, and I think love is love," Demi told InStyle. "You can find it in any gender. I like the freedom of being able to flirt with whoever I want."

    "The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted queer girls (like me at the time) and open queer girls," Demi wrote in her tribute alongside pictures of the pair. "Your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world."

    instagram.com

    She finished: "My heart goes out to your loved ones at this time.. β€οΈπŸ•Š"

    Demi's was one of many tributes dedicated to Naya that praised her for the LGBTQ+ representation she pioneered in one of the biggest shows on American TV at the time.

    naya helped a whole generation of kids embrace their sexuality, learn to love themselves, & feel seen. she pushed for representation for the lgbtq+ community and on top of that, she was incredibly talented and a loving mother to josey. you will be dearly missed πŸ•Š

    naya literally shaped an entire generation of lgbt youth and her impact on the community will never ever be forgotten

    Naya Rivera, thank you for giving us Santana Lopez and doing the most wonderful job representing the LGBT community. You helped people in more ways than you could ever imagine β€οΈπŸ§‘πŸ’›πŸ’šπŸ’™πŸ’œ #RIPNayaRivera

    Naya was vocal with her support of the LGBTQ+ community throughout her career, hosting the GLAAD Awards twice and urging for there to be more representation of queer characters onscreen.

    Charley Gallay

    Speaking to Huffington Post in 2012, she said: "The more that we can get these types of characters on air, the more that it'll help, honestly, save lives."

    She also recognised the impact her Glee character had on the community and, in particular, on queer women who related to her coming-out storyline.

    Fox

    "I get so many stories of people that the storyline truly touched them and hit home for them," she previously told the Hollywood Reporter. "It's created a fanbase for me that I never thought I'd have."

    She continued: "I was reading that my episode of The Glee Project that the demographic of women went up like 27%. It's really cool to know that there are people out there that this does matter to and that your work does matter."

    Ben Henry is a celebrity reporter for BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.

    Contact Ben Henry at ben.henry@buzzfeed.com.

    Got a confidential tip? Submit it here