Can We Talk?

When news of Naya Rivera’s heartbreaking disappearance first started popping up, I was shocked. I hadn’t thought about her performance as Santana Lopez for years. I immediately opened Youtube and started watching old Brittana clips and Santana compilation videos. 

I realized I forgot how much Santana meant to me as a closeted gay high school kid. Santana and Brittany were the first lesbian couple I had ever seen on TV and I was captivated by them. When I was at school, I had an inner reminder to make sure I didn’t talk about them too much. I related to Santana’s emotionally distant exterior that hid her inner insecurities. Her reads of other people are absolutely savage, but thanks to Naya’s performance her tender scenes with Brittany were heart-wrenching, refreshingly honest moments. Santana’s outward strength was the mask she used to keep others away from her agony.

I was taken aback over the amount of responses that reflected my own. Comments detailing how Santana was the first character to make people feel seen, the anchor to their sanity during high school years, how Brittana highlight videos are a place for people to escape to when they feel down. I had no idea that other people were as invested in these two characters as I was, or that they also took so much comfort in what many people wrote off as a silly TV show.

One question came to me as I read those comments: can we talk?
After the memes, self-deprecating jokes, carefully posed photos, can we talk to each other?

Like, real conversations? About isolation, how we get through it, what gets us to the next day? About how we have a ton of shared experiences and we’re not aliens after all?

Naya wasn’t Santana, but I can’t stop thinking about Santana and Brittany and how I felt in high school and what we do to ourselves and how to cope and heal and move forward.

Maybe it’s the cumulative effect of 2020 getting to me. But damn, can we talk?

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