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Brittana Forever: Celebrating Naya Rivera’s Immeasurable Impact on the Queer Community

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Naya Rivera’s 1st E! Interview: Live From E! Rewind

“I have been so incredibly fortunate to portray a character on television that has meant so much to so many within the LGBTQ community. Off screen, I am a woman who stands in support of equality, and equal rights for all. It has been one of the great blessings in my life to receive such love and touching stories as a result of my portrayal of Santana Lopez on Glee.”

As made clear in this love letter to the LGBTQ+ community written for Billboard in 2017, Naya Rivera did not take lightly the impact her work on Glee had on fans of the show. Over the course of nearly 100 episodes during the Fox hit’s six-year run from 2009 to 2015, viewers watched as Rivera’s Santana struggled with her sexuality, eventually finding lasting love with BFF Brittany (Heather Morris) in what series creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan called “one of the first times an openly lesbian, high school relationship was seen on network television.”

“Naya understood what ‘Brittana’ meant to the many young women who were seeing themselves represented on television for the first time,” their statement, released following the confirmation of her death in 2020, continued. “Naya always made sure that Santana’s love for Brittany was expressed with dignity, strength and with pure intentions. Naya was always moved by the girls who reached out to her to tell her how much Santana and Brittany’s love affected them. Naya’s obligation to them—and to all of her fans was obvious. She had the rare combination of humility and endless confidence in her talent.”

In the days following her passing, which came after an afternoon spent on Lake Piru in California with son Josey that went tragically wrong, fans of the actress flooded the internet with loving tributes, making clear just how comforting it can be to see yourself and your struggle represented on TV while celebrating the singular and special spark Rivera had on screen.

Adam Rose/FOX

“I cannot begin to describe the impact that Naya Rivera has had on my life. Through her portrayal of Santana, I was able to accept myself for who I am,” Twitter user @meghanxgrace wrote. “She made me understand that it’s okay to love whoever you want to love. I’m glad I had the privilege of having her as an LGBTQ+ representation onscreen throughout my childhood. You are deeply loved and will be dearly missed.”

It’s a sentiment that’s shared by many.

Nia Lachau tweeted, “Naya Rivera’s portrayal of Santana on Glee was life changing for me. I saw someone who was like me. Someone who was gay but was also beautiful and sassy and LATINA. Her character gave me strength when I was hiding who I was from everyone.”

As Twitter user @Dodger_Jess83 pointed out, Rivera’s work not only gave people struggling with their own sexuality some solace, it brought others together, as well. “Naya Rivera had a huge impact on my life,” she tweeted. “If it wasn’t for her playing Santana Lopez, I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend. We bonded over Brittana. This year it will be 7 years for Brianne and I. Thank you Naya for everything.”

Over on reddit, user tar_r shared, “Santana was the first time I saw a gay/queer woman quite literally anywhere. The character’s storylines made me feel like I was okay, in some aspects. Very truthfully, the show made me feel that no matter who hated me for who I am, no matter who bullied me, no matter who was against my sexuality, I was okay because it wasn’t actually a bad thing. That show, through Santana, was the ONLY THING THAT TOLD ME THAT. NO ONE ELSE DID. My teachers didn’t like me because of my sexuality, my peers, only my two friends were the ones who never once cared that I liked girls. No one in my life told me that gay was okay other than Santana Lopez.”

Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

There were also celebrities who mentioned the positive impact Rivera’s character made on them as they watched her groundbreaking performance of a queer woman of color.

As Pose star Ryan Jamaal Swain wrote on Twitter, “One of the first queer characters I saw myself in, Miss Santana Lopez. A QPOC on Primetime television. Naya, thank you for handling her with care, what a force you are. It’s not easy but you ran your race. You were and forever will be one of my heros [sic].”

YouTuber Hannah Hart noted, “#NayaRivera & the Santana storyline on Glee freed many closed-minded, self-hating gays like me. Only a multi-talented performer & force like Naya could bring a background character forward into the spotlight.”

Even performers who shared the screen with her, as Demi Lovato did for a brief time in the show’s fifth season, were changed by Rivera’s character. “I’ll forever cherish the opportunity to play your girlfriend on Glee,” the superstar shared on Twitter. “The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted (at the time) queer girls like me, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world.”

Naya Rivera’s “Glee” Costars Celebrate Her 34th Birthday

A person’s legacy can be measured in so many directions. While Rivera’s greatest mark on the planet will be her beloved son, Josey, the support she provided for the LGBTQ community both on screen and off—she was an avid supporter of both GLAAD and The Trevor Project—comes in a close second. And that’s something she would readily—and proudly—admit.

As she concluded that letter to Billboard a few years back, “We are all put on this earth to be a service to others and I am grateful that for some, my Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays may have given a little light to someone somewhere, who may have needed it. To everyone whose heartfelt stories I have heard, or read I thank you for truly enriching my life.”

Here’s hoping she knew the pleasure was all ours.

This story was originally published on Monday, July 20, 2020 at 1:59 p.m. PT.

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Hear Marianne Faithfull’s Forceful ‘Vagabond Ways’ Demo for ‘Incarceration of a Flower Child’

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Marianne Faithfull will give her 1999 album, Vagabond Ways, the deluxe treatment with a reissue due out March 4. She’s teasing the release with the demo recording for the album’s “Incarceration of a Flower Child,” a song Roger Waters wrote in 1968 but never recorded with Pink Floyd.

On the demo, Faithfull sings along to a backdrop of acoustic guitars and one buzzy electric as she describes a scene of drinking cheap wine and smoking dope on Indian tapestry cushions. “Don’t get up to answer the door, just stay with me here on the floor,” she belts. “It’s going to get cold in the Seventies.” The studio version that appeared on Vagabond Ways sounds more polished thanks to electronics played by co-producer Mark Howard and synth bass by Waters.

The reissue will feature several other previously unreleased demos, an uncirculated studio recording, and new liner notes. In addition to digital and CD reissues, the record will be available on vinyl for the first time.

The bonus material includes “Blood in My Eyes,” a Bob Dylan cover that previously featured on the Japanese edition of the original album, as well as “Drifting,” a song Faithfull wrote and recorded with co-producer Daniel Lanois but never released. It also includes demos of “Vagabond Ways,” “Electra,” and her cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Tower of Song,” and Waters’ “Incarceration.”

She reflected on her enduring friendship with Waters in a 2014 Rolling Stone feature when she recorded another one of his songs, “Sparrows Will Sing,” for her Give My Love to London album. “He’s one of my dearest friends, and I love him and he’s everything a real gentleman rock star should be,” she said. “He’s not a misogynist. He is not only in it for the money. He is a great man.”

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‘I Was in Prison. Now He Is’: Ronnie Spector Gets Raw on Phil Spector in Unearthed Audio

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Ronnie Spector, who died last week at the age of 78, speaks candidly about her abusive ex-husband, Phil Spector, and more in never-before-heard audio on the new episode of Rolling Stone Music Now. Phil Spector, who died in 2021, was in prison for murder when Kory Grow interviewed Ronnie in 2016, and she told Grow she saw it as karmic justice for the years when her ex essentially locked her away in their mansion.

To hear the entire episode, press play above, or listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

“I couldn’t go out for seven years,” Spector said. “I didn’t go anywhere… What goes around, comes around. I was in prison. Now he is. So that’s how I look at it.” In the interview clips, Spector also gives a vivid account of the making of the Ronettes’ epochal hit “Be My Baby” and more.

The episode also includes an in-depth discussion between Andy Greene, Angie Martoccio, Rob Sheffield, and host Brian Hiatt about Spector’s life, music, influence (from Jersey Shore rock to punk to riot grrrrl to, um, Eddie Money), and legacy — as well as her soon-to-be-reissued autobiography.

“She talks in the book about how she was possessed when she was young with the desire to be seen, to be heard, to be accepted,” Sheffield says. “She talks about how she was a cheerleader at her high school. And she was like, that wasn’t enough for me, to be the most popular girl in school. I needed to be in the most popular girl in the world. And you can hear that lust for power in ‘Be My Baby.’ This is the voice of an ordinary girl from the streets of Spanish Harlem who is absolutely intent on making the whole world hear her and go, what the hell was that? And that’s exactly what she did.”

Download and subscribe to our weekly podcast, Rolling Stone Music Now, hosted by Brian Hiatt, on Apple Podcasts or Spotify (or wherever you get your podcasts), and check out three years’ worth of episodes in the archive, including in-depth, career-spanning interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Halsey, Neil Young, Snoop Dogg, Brandi Carlile, Phoebe Bridgers, Rick Ross, Alicia Keys, the National, Ice Cube, Robert Plant, Dua Lipa, Questlove, Killer Mike, Julian Casablancas, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Marr, Scott Weiland, Liam Gallagher, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Costello, John Legend, Donald Fagen, Phil Collins, Justin Townes Earle, Stephen Malkmus, Sebastian Bach, Tom Petty, Eddie Van Halen, Kelly Clarkson, Pete Townshend, Bob Seger, the Zombies, Gary Clark Jr., and many others — plus dozens of episodes featuring genre-spanning discussions, debates, and explainers with Rolling Stone’s critics and reporters. Tune in every Friday at 1 p.m. ET to hear Rolling Stone Music Now broadcast on SiriusXM’s Volume, channel 106.

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Jamie Lynn Spears Says She Tried To Help Britney Get Out of Conservatorship

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JAMIE LYNN SPEARS
I Tried To Free Britney …
But It Blew Up In My Face!!!

1/20/2022 12:00 PM PT

Call Her Daddy/Spotify

Jamie Lynn Spears says she tried to help Britney free herself from her conservatorship … but the efforts went nowhere and pissed a lot of people off.

The former Nickelodeon star says Britney made it seem like she wanted out of the conservatorship during some late-night sister talks on a trip to Hawaii, and Jamie Lynn says she tried to get involved.

As Jamie Lynn explains on the “Call Her Daddy” podcast, she took Britney’s comments to heart and talked to her sister’s lawyer … but it blew up in her face big time.

What’s more, Jamie Lynn says she and her husband had some judges look into Britney’s conservatorship and told her all she needed to do was move out of California for 6 months and the conservatorship would end.

JL says she even offered to have Britney live with her in Louisiana in an effort to dissolve the conservatorship … but she still doesn’t know why Britney never followed through with that option.

Jamie Lynn doesn’t give an exact time frame for when any of this was happening … but says she was always going to support whatever Britney wanted to do.

Britney’s been reacting to a lot of Jamie Lynn’s interviews and excerpts from her new book, so it will be interesting if she has a response here.

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