100th Post! Life in Lockdown Health and General Update

blog post header for 100th post life update a picture of me and title text

Hey pals,

This is officially my 100th post on here (though I have privated a few older posts recently, but it counts) and I don’t know what to do with it. I thought maybe a general life and health update, I haven’t done one of those in a while and things are pretty different. A lot has been happening. Lockdown has been good and bad for a number of reasons. Personally, it’s been good because I finally felt like the playing field was levelled. I was finally the productive one, people were creating more virtual content and doing auditions virtually and day courses, rather than requiring physical attendance. I’ve gotten a lot done at home and I have sold a lot of things leading to some more money, more space and much more organisation. And I’ve had the chance to care for myself and do therapy from home which got rid of the travel anxiety of going to appointments. This has all been great and helpful for me in many ways and allowed me the space to adjust to life struggles.

However, roughly since the BLM protests, everything socially has rolled downhill. JKR being a massive transphobe and being defended by hoards of people, reading Harry Potter for the first time as an adult and being deeply heartbroken by the ableism I’ve not seen anyone talk about dripping from her pages. Forced DNR’s for disabled people who end up in hospital with Covid, if you don’t sign they will grab any old doctor to sign for you. Naya Rivera’s death actually hit me quite hard after I finally watched Glee and saw the wonderful character she created and the wonderful and outspoken person she was. Conversion therapy still being legal in the UK and it not being made illegal… People not wearing masks anymore, or trying to social distance, and just going out doing whatever they want whilst the UK has the highest death/contraction rate in Europe and second in the world? And we are coming out of lockdown? Acting jobs are already requiring in person auditions instead of virtual video calls. I’ve been publicly misgendered and wrongly named a few times recently which has been hard to deal with. The fear of a third gender marker because, whilst I am proud to be nonbinary, I’m also terrified of showing my ID to someone or someone seeing my ID who turns out to be a transphobe! Police, bouncers, bartenders, any random person who might end up seeing my ID, terrify me. It’s one of the reasons I’m ‘in the closet’ in hospital with doctors because even though I like and trust my doctors, I am scared they will look at me differently if they knew. And now my mum being bullied into going back into work again even though it’s not really safe yet for us. But there you go, capitalism. So, it has been hard existing in a world that so violently hates marginalised people and blames us for everything wrong in the world, when actually it was all caused by them and the 1% they keep voting in and falling for! Large exhale. I try not to think about that too much because it is hard living in a world that just kinda mostly wants you dead. This is why we need allies to speak loudly with us and do some fighting for us, I don’t have the energy to prove my worth over and over again. I and many others shouldn’t have to prove we are worth saving, you should just care for people, yanno? Sign some petitions and email your MP’s please.

My health is the next big paragraph. I basically was diagnosed with a really rare disease that only 2.5 people per million are diagnosed with in the world. It’s a rare type of large cell vasculitis called Takayasu’s Arteritis, it affects the arteries around the heart and limbs. I have narrowing of the artery in my right arm, this has been a thing for years and what lead me to search for answers as I experience muscle fatigue from repetitive use. This is because there isn’t enough blood supplying oxygen to my muscles, it can’t get through the narrowing quickly enough, basically. Then I found out recently, I have more narrowing that showed on a recent MRA scan which means my left arm is now at risk. We bumped my dose of steroids back up a little to 15mg which is reasonably low for things like this and I’ll be having a blood test soon to see if I maybe need an even higher dose. But this scan did show my thymus gland is fine, we were concerned I might have a growth on my thymus gland (which is in your chest) which could mean cancer. So at least I don’t have cancer, right?! With all this as well I’ve been struggling with my diet and weight. I have been trying to do as much anti-inflammatory work as possible with my foods and supplements, I went from vegetarian to pescatarian for the omega 3 fats which are huge in fighting inflammation. 10 years a vegetarian and I made this big decision for myself to try and give my body the best chance. I do also take fish oil supplements and turmeric but they haven’t done a damn thing, my inflammation in my bloods is creeping up and my colon is also inflamed again, levels have tripled since January. My biologic I started at the start of lockdown has clearly not done anything? So we are looking at changing to something else but it’s mainly used for Takayasu’s not often for Crohn’s so my Rheumatologist needs to speak to a million people before we okay it and everyone is on bloody holiday so it looks like at least a month before we know. Steroids and struggling with my eating habits have slowly put on some extra pounds of weight, which is common but still hard to deal with. I am at a weight that makes me anxious and uncomfortable. I was trying to intermittent fast but I found it wasn’t working with my food needs so am just trying to eat more intuitively and listen to my body. It actually took a few days for my body’s natural hunger cues to come back coz I was just over eating from boredom so long my body wasn’t really hungry. So we are on that journey along with my exercise journey I’ve been on through lockdown where I’ve just been trying my best to move more. I started slow by using the wii fit early on, then I would be going for walks after dropping post off, and more recently I’ve been using my stationary bike (mostly because the rain was preventing me from going on walks) and also incorporating weight lifting. I’ve read weight lifting will help my veins be easier to access for blood tests and cannulas, but also helpful for my Takayasu’s as it is supposed to force more blood through my arteries and veins that maybe it’ll undo or prevent damage. We will see, but I’ve been doing well on that front and I’m really proud of myself for it as I’ve not been this consistently active since I was in college and studied performing arts and did so much physical activity and dance all week. I’m feeling fit and enjoying exercise and I think it is helping my mental health a lot too. I’m also creeping up on 2 years smoke free, I quit smoking in September of 2018 and it has been surprisingly easy to keep off them considering I smoked on and off for a decade. I still miss it sometimes when I’m out with a friend who still smokes or writing a character who smokes, it was a huge mental health crutch for me but I’m glad I quit coz it makes Crohn’s and Takayasu’s worse. I have met a really lovely lady who works with other people with chronic conditions based in Wales who has offered to give me a hand and some support with some of this CRAP! It’s funny I just stumbled upon the support group she organises that has been moved to zoom sessions since covid, otherwise it’s all based in Wales. They have accepted participants from other places around the world too during this period, clearly aware not many support groups would have done this. She has offered to chase doctors and services for me as I’m in this very annoying limbo waiting period, not very confident with ringing people, and a big part of her job is just chasing down these services that are being a bit lax with patient care. So I’m feeling a bit more relaxed and hopeful that she may help get some things moving for me, and she sounds like she knows what she is talking about and what the doctors dealing with my care should be doing. Having someone more in the know doing this is super helpful and makes me feel a bit more relaxed. Hopefully this will mean good things. I also saw today there’s an infliximab biosimilar injection possibly coming to Europe soon, which would be a fantastic option for me as my veins aren’t good enough for infusions to be done regularly along with other tests and scans I need regularly, and infliximab is often used for both Crohn’s and TAK. That helps to ease some anxieties coz even though I’m sure it won’t be available for a while, it’s something I can bring up with my doctors and see if they can find out more for me if they decide tocilizumab isn’t the way they want to go.

Obviously, I’ve spent lots of time at home with my mum and my dog. It has been good for the most part, being together so much can put a strain on things. Layla, my dog, has finally learned how to play fetch! I’m so proud of her, she’s a collie mix and a rescue who has her own ideas of what she wants to do but has been picking up training over the last couple of years really well and she is so much better behaved now, still has her moments of being crazy and has no recall off lead but there has been a lot of improvement. 5 year old rescue dogs are easier to train that humans, evidently. My mum has been working from home until recently because of my health. Early lockdown she was still checking on a surgery site that was VERY slow to heal, and then starting my imraldi injections, and then going on steroids, kept me in the high risk category for a long time but I have been okay’d to relax it slightly so I can social distance more so now, so I’m hoping to see one of my friends from London soon and my local friend has popped over a few times to socially distance sit and chat in my garden, and it has really helped! My friend in Newcastle sent me a care package a while back when I was feeling really depressed and they have been putting together zine’s which has given me something to do and work towards and I’ve submitted my art to each volume. Having a reason to do some little line drawings again has also helped a lot and it has been a lot of fun. My mum and I started baking early lockdown but it made us argue so we stopped even though I masted the perfect banana bread… but we take drives to get out of the house and kept coming across little plant and food sale stalls on the roadsides and started picking up bits and pieces. We now own two tomato plants, some lettuce, leeks, and we pick up some home grown veg from these stalls which has been a nice change, there’s definitely a difference in taste.

I’ve had my productive moments and my entirely demotivated times, and that’s okay. I think overall I’ve been very productive. I’ve gotten my WIP up to 6.25k words, meaning I technically have enough words for applying for Masters, but I need a lot of editing and feedback from friends! I’ve updated a lot of my blog posts and learned a lot about SEO for my blog and youtube, which was no easy fete it’s so hard to understand! But I’ve gotten somewhere! I’ve done SO MUCH reading I quickly smashed my 12 book goal for the year and whilst writing this I’m somewhere around 35 out of 50, but if I keep going at this rate, I might have to push it again! It’s possible because I’ve been enjoying re-reading old manga and they’re so quick and easy to read I almost feel like I’m cheating. I’m trying to demolish some of my physical book TBR because a lot of these books are super old and I want to be able to unhaul any books I wasn’t that fond of and give myself some more shelf space. I have absolutely gotten rid of a lot of books several times over but looking forward to more being unhauled and finding them a new home or being donated.

I briefly dabbled in a bit of clothing upcycling or thrift flipping as a lot of people are calling it now and made a few items more useable but definitely have some half complete projects and other pieces I need to make up my mind what to do with… hmm. But I’m taking a break from that for the moment! I’ve been working on a lot of collaging in my 2020 notebook, I’ve basically filled the whole thing and got so bored at one point, I found a new notebook to start preparing for 2021 and putting some energies out into the universe that next year will be better (please, lord, whoever u are give me this solid) but I find collaging both satisfying and relaxing so it has been a helpful activity for times I am physically fidgety but mentally not really there.

I have watched everything there is to watch on Netflix it feels, this isn’t true obviously, but I hate the algorithm of Netflix and YouTube because if you go through a patch of watching one type of video, that’s all it suggests to you forever and I like to watch a variety of things and hate that it doesn’t easily show me a range of shows except what’s popular… I’m trying to update some of my LGBT+ Netflix posts but the few I still haven’t seen are just not of interest to me… or I’m not in the mood for currently so I’m a bit stuck!!! And everyone recommends the same five shows when I ask. I’ve gotten into watching a lot of true crime, mostly on youtube, but occasionally documentaries. I’m not sure why we enjoy these so much, I think it is morbid fascination.

I’m currently just exhausted of trying to do everything. I feel like I need to make some life decisions on what areas I want to focus on in my life because I do feel like sometimes I struggle doing any of it when there’s so much of it I wanna do. But I have a lot of limitations, and I may have to put a dream to one side for a while. For now, I’m just plodding along.

I hope you enjoyed reading this about me and my life. I don’t often talk about myself in this way, but I feel it’s important to share what I go through as the person behind the blog. I hope this might highlight some things for others to think about, but I also just hope it has help you get to know me a little better and that maybe you’ll follow my blog to keep up with me and what I’m doing.

~ Artie

(they/them)

Still Struggling as a Hoarder: the mission to sell the excess.

hey pals

I had a pretty great time selling my second hand items online through lockdown, I sold so many items I’d had up for a while plus loads I’d gone through and put up throughout lockdown. people were bored and online shopping and it’s trendy to second hand shop, plus I’ve sold quite a few button bundles because people have been getting into crafts during this time! I really purged quite a lot of items and made myself a pretty nice little bit of extra money (not that much coz I try to keep most of my items priced reasonably) and things have slowed down since the rules have changed and people are being told to start going back to work and the shops are open or opening up… which sucks for me as a small seller without many other forms of making money, but I can imagine this will also probably impact other small/online businesses and individuals who rely on this to help pay for essentials.

I’ve been dabbling in the facebook marketplace again since I decided to have a reboot of the spare room furniture, we sold everything so quickly on there and replaced everything now the storage is so much better. So I was hopeful, as I have some larger items I don’t want to bother with posting and just want someone to come collect them, that maybe it would work out well for me with other items. I sold one pair of shoes pretty quick, and they were a pair I’d recently decided to let go of after using them in a video for the first time in probably years. I then sold a bundle of mens large tops for £12 quite easily. But most of the buyers since then have been flakey. I was trying to sell some silicone straws coz I just didn’t get on with them personally and someone wanted them posting, so I was like sure, £4 all in to cover postage. She agreed and then didn’t respond and had then looked up straws and decided to buy a set from amazon for £3.99… so only a penny cheaper than I’d originally suggested. I think this is petty to start, rather than helping out someone personally you give more money to amazon, but also rather than saying ‘hey I found them on amazon at this price could you do anything better’ etc. she chose to just let me down and buy from a massive corporation. Infuriating to be honest. I did end up selling them to someone who also wanted them posting for £3.90 but lost almost 50p to paypal charges! You can never win really.

People keep messaging ‘is this available’ and then don’t reply when I say yes… reply a week later and agree to buy then never pay… or never show up… so when this lady popped up (an obvious reseller coz she didn’t even ask for clothing sizes!) I kind of just sighed with relief that I would finally be getting rid of 24 items and emptied one of the two massive clear containers I use to keep all this stuff in! I’m only making £20 but that’s totally fine, I’ve had these items up for a while with minimal to no interest.

It can be hard to price things reasonably on depop because that app alone takes 10% of each purchase, and then paypal takes a cut and you still have to cover postage as well. A lot of my cheaper items only get me a couple of pounds, which I don’t mind coz I do really hate the resellers who charge extortionate amounts for things for no reason. But I do have some more expensive items. Normally because they are larger items, or they were more expensive to buy for myself originally, or hard to emotionally let go of. A lot of items I sell on are items that barely fit or ended up not fitting me and I couldn’t return them, very rarely do I pick up pieces specifically to resell but I only do that if I find something worth it. I try to limit this coz it’s not my main thing and I don’t want it to be. I mainly sell to get some money back from items that just didn’t work out for me, whether they are too small, don’t fit the way I want, were hand me downs from family, etc.

Sometimes I pray for a reseller to find me on the Facebook marketplace because it often means a big purge of items, this has happened to me a few times. One time before the pandemic, probably when I was still at uni and had a purge, a lady came and literally rummaged through the piles of clothes I had out on the bed in the spare room! This time she saw my post with collage pictures of items, she told me the ones she wanted and made an offer (I did say I would do bundle deals)

I miss bootsales a lot, but the idea of paying £10 to park and set up sucks a lot coz you’re desperate to at least make back that tenner and end up sat there for ages and barely selling a thing even if your prices are low. Also, right now there’s a world wide pandemic and I don’t think we should be going out to bootsales right now… but people will do anything.

I still have a lot of clothes to sell, and I feel like I still have items I need to really decide to part with. I have a bit of a weird emotional connection to clothes I buy and I think it’s a mixture of never feeling like I have one solid aesthetic and growing up with a family of hoarders but also always feeling ugly and like clothes don’t look good on me for a long time. I dont feel this way now and I think that’s the problem ahaha! I love clothes and style now, that it’s hard letting go of clothes I like even if they don’t fit. I let go of a shirt I loved because it wasn’t long enough on the arms, and a few other amazing pieces because I just did not wear them at all or much since I bought them. Sometimes I have great intentions but end up never wearing anything because I’m chronically ill and spend most of my time in PJ’s and tracksuits and it’s even more true since we’ve been locked down. I have nowhere to go and I’m mostly dressing for the temperature!

The clothes I sell on aren’t just from me, but also my mum and my gran, sometimes other family members too, so it’s quite the selection of styles and sizes. Plus the three of us alone have changed sizes so many times over the years, sometimes you find a bunch of old clothes that you don’t fit anymore that were just packed away once upon a time. I still find boxes and bags of items I haven’t seen since university or even before then! Though, thankfully, I think I’ve gotten through most of those things by now! It felt endless.

It’s been kind of rough not having easy access to a post office as well. I like to use my small local one because I like to support local businesses, but they shut down their post office section for a large chunk of the pandemic (which, truly fair enough) and I couldn’t actually take myself into shops for a long time either being high risk. So, for ages I was using the online postage label printing system which was annoying to use coz I had to measure everything I posted, and I got it wrong a few times, as well as printing the labels and sticking them on. I’m lucky to have my own printer (the only good thing out of university that I still even use is this printer, paper and ink I got from DSA) if I didn’t have this, I would have struggled a lot more. I was trying my best to limit sales to items I could slide into the post box so I wouldn’t have to drop any parcels off inside, come into contact with anyone, or travel further afield. And it was working out find, but I always wished my postage services were supporting my local post office as I can imagine they’ve probably been hit with the pandemic. Now, they are open again 11am-1pm, which suits me I am still at home 90% of the time, and everyone inside wears a mask and there’s minimal contact, most people I approach in the shop is better at attempting distance than anywhere else out in the world I have been. So, I’m looking forward to being able to use this regularly again if my sales keep up, and not worrying so much about larger parcels and how I’m going to post them.

My second struggle is my excessive book collection closely followed by DVDs. Book isn’t so bad, coz every once in a while I got through my read and unread sections and have a purge, but I got into reading and buying ebooks during lockdown and it’s such and easy instant hit it’s hard to stop (especially when you see a tonne for 99p) but I’ve been dedicating time to actually read some of my physical books I’ve had for a while so I can either move them to the Done section or get rid of them somehow. DVDs however are a bit tricky, I’ve seriously minimised over time because I now use Netflix and watch so much YouTube I don’t really need DVDs except for the odd film or series I really love that aren’t always available on streaming platforms. Who even watches DVDs anymore? I stuck on an episode of House M.D. recently to check out an episode and it was the most grainy thing I’ve watched in at least 5 years. So, those have gone to the bye-bye pile, waiting until it is big enough to take to donation or see if I can sell any of it. I sell a lot of books and DVDs through MusicMagpie (which isn’t a great service but it’s nice to get some extra cash from a hefty pile of unwanted items) sometimes I’ll manage to sell books on Depop, that’s happened a few times, but mostly they all just end up getting donated because who watches DVDs? and my reading tastes are a bit weird and often a lot of the books I don’t want, no one else does either. Lockdown has meant I’ve just had to take things to the donation bins in the area as nothing was open to accept donations, now more shops are open(ing) I might be able to take things to a store that supports a charity I actually like. I’m still sad that the donation shelves in hospitals and GP surgeries aren’t functioning but it’s obvious why, but I wish there was some other way I could support my local services, especially right now. I can’t imagine it’s easy and I think the extra money in their budgets would be helpful. Guess it’ll just have to wait a bit longer.

Truly I’m not entirely sure what the point of this is… I think it is just something that has been on my mind for a while as I’ve been putting a lot of work into this. I think as well, I just want to remind everyone to think of who they are buying from. Your £5 will be greater appreciated and used by a real person you buy from on Depop or the Facebook Marketplace than a billion trillionaire. What do I use the money for? Sometimes it goes towards living and travel costs, I need to fill up my car’s tank and pay for its tax somehow. I try to put money into my savings, hoping for a brighter future where I could maybe go and do a Masters in Dublin. It also goes towards a lot of excess health costs, like the millions of vitamins I’ve been told I should take or seeing my chiropractor or my therapist who is helping me through medical related trauma… These are just my circumstances, but hopefully this may help you see why sharing the wealth is important, a lot of people rely on that small income to keep themselves afloat and it’s not as easy as it may seem.

~ Artie

P.S. that massive box is already full again… mostly just for storage but it’s full.

If you’re UK based and are interested in helping me out, check out my depop.

For more clothing based content you can check out these links: Thrifted wardrobe 1 and 2, I dress like a stereotypical bisexual, Trying on all my thrifted shirts, come thrifting with me, shopping midsize and disabled, tips for making money and selling online.

Arc August: May Day by Josie Jaffrey Book Review

book review may day josie jaffey

“If the murderer you’re tracking is a vampire, then you want a vampire detective. Just maybe not this one. It’s not that Jack Valentine is bad at her job. The youngest member of Oxford’s Seekers has an impressive track record, but she also has an impressive grudge against the local baron, Killian Drake.
When a human turns up dead on May Morning, she’s determined to pin the murder on Drake. The problem is that none of the evidence points to him. Instead, it leads Jack into a web of conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the country, people to whom Jack has no access. But she knows someone who does.
To get to the truth, Jack will have to partner up with her worst enemy. As long as she can keep her cool, Drake will point her to the ringleaders, she’ll find the murderer and no one else will have to die. Body bags on standby.”
GoodReads.

Hey pals,

I got this book as a free arc in exchange for an honest review and sadly I did not enjoy this book much, I actually ended up DNF’ing the book. Reading the blurb and overview of plot, it sounded great. I love crime and detective stories and really enjoy working through a book trying to figure out a mystery, and I am yet to find an urban fantasy I enjoy but I like the idea of what it is meant to be. I was excited about the idea of combining vampires and supernatural elements with crime and detective plots.

I’m struggling to understand the audience of this book. There are many contradictory elements that suggest it could be YA or Adult Urban Fantasy, I think it’s meant to be Adult. The MC Jack falls flat for me in many ways. She comes across like a teenager who hasn’t settled into herself as a person, there’s a lot of telling rather than showing. The MC narrative tone is very juvenile and feels very YA, irrational and naive. MC and sidekick Cam are both Vampires that died at 18 and 19 respectively, Jack has lived for 20 more years since and Cam is unknown so I’m not sure if I should be expecting them to act 18/19 or almost 40. They are both working Vampire Detectives and Cam comes across older but the MC doesn’t. I assume it is adult because of the amount of casual swearing used, but also because they are detectives as a job vs. in YA like Nancy Drew or Scooby Doo, they’re kids in school still who like to solve crime in their spare time.

I’m very confused about the point in time this book starts, we get into an investigation and Jack is convinced Killian Drake (one of the head vampires) did it and she has this grudge with him that isn’t really explained enough. I know there is a short prequel, but I think it may have just been better to start with the prequel as the beginning of the book for the backstory to make sense because Jack just comes across really irrational in her hatred of him.

When it comes to the investigation related stuff, I’m not sure enough research was done into how this works, or if there’s an in world system for the Vampire Detectives, it hasn’t been made clear and padded out. It’s skimmed over in a lot of places and the people working the case don’t sound very professional.

I found it odd that the characters just got totally wrecked in chapter two. It didn’t really add anything to the plot and we didn’t learn anything about the other characters really. This is the kind of scene I would expect later in a book for an accidental admission of some kind, a revealed secret. Or early in the book to get to know the other character’s the MC will be working alongside but they all quickly dispersed and we were left with Cam and Jack talking about the case because Cam refused to talk about his personal life, it really did nothing for plot development or world building for me.

I find a lot of the writing will give you information, but then diminish what’s said. One example is speaking to Gabriella, Jack mentally notes that her clothes look expensive and would cost more than their work car “which isn’t saying much”, so a lot of meaning is lost with these filler sentences. Now I’m questioning, are her clothes actually expensive looking? I feel like that sentence quickly took back what was said and just think a better comparison should have been made. This happens a lot in the few chapters I read.

I’ve noticed every woman they meet is always the most beautiful woman they have ever seen. Every woman is just minimised to looking beautiful, I’m not sure how to tell all these characters apart when the first thing that’s said about them is they’re the most beautiful.

~

These were my main points of critique. Overall, I think that this book just wasn’t for me. I’ve seen many great reviews of the book, so if you enjoy this book then that’s great but it just didn’t really hit the mark for me. It was quite disjointed and confusing for me to read and I feel like maybe some of it would have made more sense if I read the prequel first, but as I said in a previous point, I think they probably could have done with being combined. Many books will start off with a prequel chapter for some scene setting and backstory before lunging into the main plot however many years later. I just didn’t connect with the MC, which makes reading difficult for me. It sucks too, coz there are some queer characters and some things I wanted to read and find out but I couldn’t push through the parts I wasn’t enjoying. I think I only really got partway through chapter 8 of this book, it was a slow start and I just wasn’t enjoying it personally. I’ll be giving this one star as I DNF’d.

~

That’s my review of my reading experience. I hope this was helpful to some people, I’ll also post a bit on my GoodReads. I was torn about writing this but I’ve tried to be respectful and honest about my experience. I’ll likely donate this book or pass it on to someone who wants to read it.

I’m hoping to review another arc I recieved, later this month, that’s more positive but don’t hold me to it but life does things sometimes. Hopefully I’ll be able to give you another Arc Review for Arc August. I was thinking of making a video as well but again I’m not totally sure yet! If I do, I’ll link the video and post here.

Check out my other book blog posts!

Check out my last post.

Let me know if you have read any of these sapphic reads and if you think I should read any of them ASAP!

View my recent YouTube Book video!

~ Artie

Tribute to Naya Rivera

naya rivera photos on a mauve background with lots of stars

Hey pals,

By the time this post is up it’s been almost three weeks since Naya Rivera was confirmed dead, and as someone who grew up as a young sapphic around the time Glee was live I just wanted to give her a little tribute because I think this may have been the first wlw character I saw on TV.

I wasn’t a huge Glee fan, in fact I barely remember much about the show except some parts around the time Santana came out as a lesbian and had her romance with Brittany. I watched plenty of shows and films that were queer coded but nothing overtly queer in representation. I think Santana became my favourite character, because she was always so upfront and blunt. She was hot as hell, as well. Sassy, feisty, deadpan humour, and sharp wit were a selection of descriptors I’ve seen used for the character of Santana Lopez and this was something that always drew me to her as a character. But I didn’t know how much I would love her until I finally watched Glee.

We all know of the curse around the Glee cast. Numerous deaths and controversy follow the original cast members. The first death in 2013 of Cory Monteith from an accidental drug overdose after a past of substance use struggles, and sadly Naya’s body was found on the 7th anniversary of Cory’s death (13th July). Soon followed by Mark Salling who committed suicide after pleading guilty to possession of child p*rnography in 2018, and finally Naya Rivera who drowned after falling into a lake in California. Other awful circumstances have followed the Glee cast. Melissa Benoist came forward about domestic abuse at the hands of her ex-husband (and Glee co-star) which left her with possibly permanent physical damage detailed in her IGTV video. It also appears that Ryan Murphy, one of the shows creators, would get into public feuds with bands that denied his request to use their songs in the show and made some rather distasteful public comments about them and got called out for it by Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters and Nirvana) “the guy who created Glee is so offended that we’re not, like, begging to be on his f–king show”. Yikes. Also he seemingly stole ideas from the cast to write into the show without express permission, Chris Colfer said, “I don’t think any of us directly try to give input on the character or on the storyline, but they definitely steal things from us.” Amber Riley punched a girl in London whilst there with the Cast on tour, something I would call mild compared to the rest. And finally, we can’t forget the shady things Lea Michele herself has been involved in. Besides numerous cast members (particularly Naya) saying Lea Michele was impossible and unbearable to be around, recently Samantha Ware came forward about Michele making Ware’s life hell on set, which sparked a roll of other people’s experiences with Lea Michele as well from a selection of her past productions all the way back to her stage days. Lea Michele seems to live in an ignorant bubble.

I have watched the show properly for the first time during Lock Down and I understand why so many people loved Glee, but boy did it not age well. (I won’t even go into its constant use of the phrase ‘Handicapable’ like some woke buzzword) These characters were born in the same year I was (1994) and during this time, not many shows had out right queer representation and we have Naya to thank for Santana and Brittany coming out and having their love story. Naya really portrayed Santana so well, I would call it one of the more accurate portrayals by a straight actor to date. There were so many moments where she brought a softness that we had never seen before from Santana, but also breaking the stereotype that sapphic couples have to have a butch one and a femme one. She was also one of the first Latina queer representations on T.V. She has such a full character arc, the queer community is always lacking, and I will always be thankful that Glee didn’t follow the ‘bury your gays’ trope that is so damaging to viewers. Though the queer characters may struggle, none of them die. She once said in an interview, “There are very few ethnic LGBT characters on television, so I am honored to represent them.” She took this role seriously, and Demi Lovato (who played a girlfriend of Santana’s in season 5) said, “I’ll forever cherish the opportunity, the character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted queer girls (like me at the time) and open queer girls, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world.”

In Naya’s 2016 memoir, she wrote a lot about the hard stuff that many people deal with in normal life but also in the acting industry. I love how blunt and straightforward she is, it really shows they chose the right woman for Santana, or maybe they chose Naya because of her authenticity and moulded the character after her. It wouldn’t be the first time as Kurt was created after Chris Colfer auditioned to be Artie. Naya talked of her relationship with Mark Salling “I think everyone should have that one relationship where you look back and ask yourself, ‘What the hell was I thinking?’ You’ll learn something and you won’t regret it. Unless, of course, that relationship was with someone who had a sizable stash of child p*rn on his computer. Then, by all means, regret everything.” but also about being on set, from sexual chemistry to Diva moments of other people on set. She stood up against fellow star’s unprofessional behaviour and stood for Brittana becoming more than just casual ‘lady kisses’.

I’ve read a lot about Naya being everyone’s biggest supporter. In People, a source said, “She always made sure to involve everybody around her. It was never just about her. It was about everybody getting to experience everything that she was doing together. She made sure everybody felt bigger than they maybe were.” and Heather Morris’s instagram posts dedicated to Naya said, “You would tell me “you look so skinny” EVERY TIME you saw me and it made me giggle slash I loved it and when I told you how it made me feel…you said “well I’d always like to hear that I look skinny so I make sure to make others feel good like that.” ” and if you look through Naya’s twitter profile, you can see all the posts dedicated to the BLM movement. She wrote, “In times like these, and always, we must stand up and be counted. Stand up against injustice. Prejudice. Pure evil. These are photos of my grandma protesting for civil rights in the 60s. She was an advocate for civil, women’s, and human rights. She is my hero.” She was clearly a vocal supporter of people from all backgrounds, she made people feel seen, mostly for good reasons but also called out bad behaviour with no remorse. “She was not selfish. She was a very strong person. I think she was ahead of her time for speaking up on certain issues. If you look back around 2011, she was on the forefront of it all. Partnering with GLAAD and doing different things with her heritage,” the source said. “Most people at the start of their careers, she didn’t care if she faced backlash — she just wanted to make sure she spoke out. Some people would’ve hidden, but she took everything head on.” It’s truly tragic that the world lost a woman like this, not many actors or stars stand up so boldly for what they believe and make the voices of the vulnerable heard. She used her platform for good.

Thankfully her talent on screen was seen, as she won several awards in her time. In 2009 she won a Gold Derby award for best comedy supporting actress, 2014 Favourite TV Gal Pals for Santana and Rachel (???), 2014 she won an award for her voice acting role Best Female Vocal Performance, and in 2011 and 2012 she won two awards from ALMA for Favourite Music Artist and Favourite TV Actress for Leading Role in a Comedy. (all from her IMDB I struggled to read this so sorry if anything I wrote was not correct) She was also one of the few cast members of Glee who has had a relatively successful career and regular work since the show ended. I watched Devious Maids but I don’t remember Naya in it so I may have to go bad and give it another watch, it is a good show and one I would highly recommend if you like Drama and Crime. And she was in the Step Up TV show, which I have not seen but may be worth a look but to me nothing will match the original Step Up film starring Channing Tatum.

People speak of her talent a lot. One thing I struggled with when watching the show was that many of the cast of Glee were astronomically talented singers and performers but hardly got any screen time and I found it hard to understand why Rachel and Finn were the stars or lead vocals when many other cast members were more talented and likable. The actor Kevin McHale who played Artie Abrams said, “The amount of times [Naya] would memorize all of those crazy monologues on Glee the morning of and would never ever mess up during the scene… I mean, she was clearly more talented than the rest of us. She was the most talented person I’ve ever known. There is nothing she couldn’t do and I’m furious we won’t get to see more.” and honestly I agree, there was so much she gave already but she clearly was not done.

Naya touched many people’s lives in person and through the television screen. I hope that her death will remind people of everything she did and worked towards, and make you think about how you could better yourself and better the world around you like she did. Obviously, I do not know her, I do not claim to, but everything I have read has lead me to this conclusion, even after reading some bad reviews on her memoir (which I think is just based on a reading preference rather than Naya herself). The world is going through a purge where everything is rising to the surface and we are finally seeing the corruption our personal privileges may have shielded us from. Now is the time to be vocal. I feel inspired by Naya Rivera that there are some people in the world with the right idea, equality above everything. She was a huge part of creating a space for queer women, queer femmes, and for queer BIPOC where there wasn’t one in the mainstream. There’s still a lot of work to do for all marginalised communities and I hope more celebrities will speak out about it the way Naya did.

~ Artie

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