KEY POINTS

  • Fans of Naya Rivera went to Lake Piru to hold a vigil 
  • Attendees talked about how her "Glee" character, Santana, helped and inspired them
  • Rivera tragically drowned in Lake Piru on July 8 during a boating trip with her son

Naya Rivera’s fans gathered to hold a vigil for the late “Glee” star at the lake where she had tragically drowned on July 8 at the age of 33.

On Saturday, Rivera’s fan page, called Naya’s Army, organized a vigil at Lake Piru that was attended by the actress’ supporters from Indiana, Oregon and California, where the reservoir is located, CBS Los Angeles reported. Many of the mourners spoke about how the late star’s role in “Glee” helped and inspired them.

In the now-defunct musical series, Rivera played lesbian Santana Lopez, who came out in 2011 after understanding her sexuality and developing feelings for Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris), her co-cheerleader. During the vigil, one fan revealed how the late actress’ role helped them come to terms with their sexuality.

“After seeing them on TV, I was like it is okay to be different,” the supporter said.

Another fan explained the role of “Glee” in their life, saying, “Without ‘Glee,’ I swear I would not be here. I would not be alive. That’s just a fact.”

Artwork of Rivera, white balloons and flower arrangements were brought to Lake Piru to honor the actress, who drowned during a boating trip with her son, People reported. There was also a rainbow flag emblazoned with “Thank you, Naya,” a nod to her lesbian character.

On July 8, 4-year-old Josey, Rivera's son with ex Ryan Dorsey, was found alone on a boat at Lake Piru. The mother and son had rented the watercraft, and staffers were alarmed when they failed to return it three hours after it was due.

The crew found Josey sleeping alone while wearing a life jacket. The boy later told them that his mom had gone swimming but hadn’t returned yet. Another life vest found on the boat suggested that Rivera wasn’t wearing hers when she went into the water. A day after, authorities presumed that Rivera was dead.

One of the things that helped the search and rescue team was a photo that the actress took of her son in front of a cove.

“We found where that cove was. We did send our dive members to those two locations and searched those extensively,” Ventura County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team's Robert Inglis said.

Rivera’s body was found on July 13, less than a week after she went missing.

Naya Rivera Naya Rivera attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures’ And Legendary Pictures’ “42” at TCL Chinese Theatre on April 9, 2013 in Hollywood, California. Photo: Getty Images/Imeh Akpanudosen