Glee cast to reunite for special tribute to Naya Rivera almost one year after her tragic death

Naya Rivera and Kevin McHale on Glee. (FOX Image Collection via Getty Images)

The cast of Glee is set to reunite at the GLAAD Awards to deliver a heartfelt tribute to their late co-star Naya Rivera after she died in a drowning accident last year.

Jacob Artist, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Vanessa Lenes, Jane Lynch, Kevin McHale, Heather Morris, Matthew Morrison, Alex Newell, Amber Riley, Harry Shum Jr, Becca Tobin and Jenna Ushkowitz will reunite at the GLAAD Awards on 8 April to honour the legacy of Naya Rivera and her Glee character Santana Lopez.

Rivera captured the hearts of queer people across the globe when her character came out in a 2011 Glee episode titled “I Kissed a Girl”. Ten years on, the cast’s tribute will honour that episode as well as Rivera’s life.

The cast will be introduced by Demi Lovato before delivering a powerful message about Rivera’s impact on LGBT+ teenagers and the importance of queer Latinx representation on television.

Glee star Naya Rivera died in July 2020 in a drowning accident

Naya Rivera became a fan-favourite among LGBT+ Glee fans when her character came out and opened up about her feelings for best friend Brittany Pierce.

There was widespread shock and sadness in July 2020 when Rivera’s body was recovered from Lake Piru in California following a days-long search.

Rivera was first reported missing on 8 July after she rented a boat with her son and went swimming. Hours later, another boater discovered her son alone on the boat.

Her Glee co-stars issued heartfelt tributes to the late singer and actress following her death. Writing on social media at the time, Demi Lovato said Rivera’s character was “groundbreaking” for closeted queer girls across the world.

Heather Morris, who played Rivera’s girlfriend (and later her wife) on Glee, reflected on their “beautiful friendship” in a heart-wrenching Instagram post after the actor’s body was recovered from Lake Piru.

“We stuck by each other’s side and created the most beautiful friendship built out of love and understanding,” Morris wrote in her tribute to Rivera.

“You are and always will be the strongest and most resilient human being I know, and I vowed to carry that with me as I continue to live my life.”

The GLAAD Media Awards will be hosted by Niecy Nash and will feature countless high-profile guests, including Matt Bomer, Bob The Drag Queen, Laverne Cox, Mackenzie Davis, Colman Domingo, Clea DuVall, Jim Parsons, JoJo Siwa, Sam Smith and many others.

The awards ceremony will be streamed live on YouTube.