Naya Rivera wows as the host of the GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco

When you tell a group of lesbian and bisexual women that both Naya Rivera and Sara Ramirez will be in the same room together, there is bound to be excitement. But when you tell that same group of women that the Glee and Grey’s Anatomy stars will be together to support a major gay advocacy organization at a biggest gay awards show around (besides, possibly, the Tonys) in the gayest city in the country, expect passing out and mass hysteria to follow.

Credit: Photo by Lydia Gonzales

Much to the credit of the well-heeled crowd at the 2011 GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco, no one rushed the stage or, as far as I know, fainted during the event. Naya, who self-described her character as “the majestic mean girl, the luscious lady-loving Santana” hosted the show in front of a full ballroom at the Marriott Marquis in downtown San Francisco.

The evening began with the celebrity guests walking the blue carpet, courtesy one of the evening’s big sponsors Roxx Vodka. The running joke on stage was every time someone said Roxx (pronounced “rocks”), the company would donate $100 to GLAAD. So there was endless talk of this or that “rocking” or having “rocked” and all other conjugations, which was followed by the canned sound effect of a cha-ching from a cash register. Hey, it was for a good cause.

Naya was the first major female star to take the blue carpet. Her appearance in the entryway brought an onslaught of flashbulbs from the assembled media. She was gracious enough to stop by our spot along the rope line and answer a few questions.

Credit: Photo by Lydia Gonzales

AfterEllen: When I asked readers on Twitter for questions for you what questions they had for you, an overwhelming number of them just said, “Tell her thank you,” “Tell her she helped me come to terms with my sexuality,” “Tell her she helped me come out,” and even “Tell her she saved my life.” Do you feel that responsibility while you’re playing Santana?
Naya Rivera: Yeah, I absolutely do. I’ve gotten an overwhelming number of tweets and fan letters that are from girls in high school, 17, who are struggling with coming out and their sexuality. They say things like, “Thank you for being so brave.” “I came out to my friends or I came out to my parents.” To me I feel very honored that I am helping people in such a difficult time in their lives. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

AE: Your AfterEllen fans live tweet every episode using the hashtag #gaysharks, so you can check that out next time if you want. How big a role did the fans have in pushing the writers to go deeper into the Brittany and Santana relationship?
NR: I would say 100 percent. I feel like the fans are actually fully responsible for the place that Santana’s character has been taken and her storyline. I feel like they weren’t really sure what they were going to do with it and if it would make an impact. And the response has been just overwhelming. They are the reason why I am where I am right now.

Credit: Photo by Lydia Gonzales

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