LAKE PIRU (CBSLA) — Fans gathered near Lake Piru on Saturday evening for a vigil in honor of former “Glee” actress Naya Rivera nearly one month after she drowned.
One by one, fans shared stories about the 33-year-old’s impact on their life through her groundbreaking on-screen portrayal of Santana Lopez, a fictional lesbian character, on “Glee.”
Some supporters of Rivera say the way she played the role of Lopez encouraged them to accept and come out about their sexuality.
People traveled from across California and some also came from Oregon and Indiana to show their support.
“Without ‘Glee,’ I swear I would not be here. I would not be alive. That’s just a fact,” said one fan.
“After seeing them on TV, I was like it is okay to be different,” another said about Rivera’s impact.
Many of Rivera’s fans got to know each other through the Twitter fan page called “Naya Army.”
Those in attendance at the vigil on Saturday turned an overlook above Lake Piru into a memorial, posting pictures and hundreds of messages to the actress, who was found dead last month days after she went missing in the lake.
Rivera and her 4-year-old son had been on a pontoon boat and a 911 call was sent out after he was seen sleeping on it alone after the boat was due to be returned.
Authorities believe Rivera began struggling in the water and was able to get her son to safety before she eventually drowned.
The group that gathered for the memorial said they will collect most of the pictures and messages and present it to Rivera’s family but some of the items will stay at the site as a memorial.
Rivera was laid to rest on July 24 in a small funeral service attended by family and friends, including “Glee” cast members, sources told Entertainment Tonight.