The cast of Glee reunited to pay tribute to their late co-star Naya Rivera during the 32nd GLAAD Media Awards.

Rivera, who drowned last year in a boating accident in Southern California aged 33, played cheerleader Santana Lopez on the musical comedy-drama.

The actress had been praised for her ground-breaking portrayal of the character, who was gay.

GLAAD Media Awards
The cast of Glee reunited to remember their late co-star Naya Rivera (The 32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards/Getty Images for GLAAD)

During the virtual GLAAD awards, which honour media for fair and accurate representations of the LGBT community, Rivera’s former co-stars reunited to remember her.

Demi Lovato, who played Rivera’s on-screen girlfriend in Glee, opened the tribute while Heather Morris, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Vanessa Lengies, Jane Lynch, Kevin McHale, Matthew Morrison, Amber Riley and Jenna Ushkowitz all featured.

They praised the importance of Santana to young LGBT viewers while recalling some of their favourite memories of Rivera, whose last act was to save five-year-old son Josey’s life at Lake Piru in July last year.

The cast also shared a message from Rivera’s mother, Yolanda Previtire, who said her daughter would be “honoured” by the tribute.

In a statement, Previtire said: “When Naya was told that Santana would be a lesbian she called me to let me know and I asked her how did she feel about that and she said ‘I feel great about it!'”

She added: “Her desire was to always be an advocate to those who did not have a voice. I don’t believe that she realised how important she was to this world.

“I am grateful that my eldest daughter helped to change the landscape of how we view and see each other.

“Thank you GLAAD for keeping my daughter’s legacy alive.”

Elsewhere, the ceremony featured A-list presenters in the form of Katy Perry and Sterling K Brown, while Sarah, Duchess of York, made a brief appearance.

GLAAD Media Awards
Demi Lovato opened the tribute to Naya Rivera (The 32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards/Getty Images for GLAAD)

Comedian and actress Niecy Nash, who married partner Jessica Betts last year, was on hosting duties.

British star Sam Smith, who uses they/them pronouns, won outstanding music artist and raised a cup of tea in celebration during anCompos acceptance speech from London.

The Boys In The Band, director Joe Mantello’s adaptation of Mart Crowley’s 1968 play about a group of gay men at a New York City birthday party, won outstanding film (limited release).

In the wide release category, romantic comedy-drama Happiest Season was named the best film.

On the small screen, Star Trek: Discovery won outstanding drama series, HBO’s We’re Here won outstanding reality series and outstanding comedy series went to Schitt’s Creek.

Daniel Levy, the star and creator of Schitt’s Creek, said the award was “incredible recognition”.

Netflix’s Disclosure was named best documentary.