On Friday's highly anticipated episode of 20/20, Bruce Jenner told Diane Sawyer that he is "for all intents and purposes... a woman." It was a groundbreaking moment in television to have such a well-known public figure find the courage to be honest about who he is with such bravery — and, in response, everyone from Bruce's family to his fellow celebrities to 20/20 viewers wasted no time sharing messages of support on social networking sites. In fact, Twitter in particular has been a focal point for users to share their messages of love and understanding — and, thankfully, positive messages have far outweighed the naysayers for once.
Of course, whenever a major pop culture event takes place, many say nasty things on the Internet that they'd likely never say out loud in "real life." Jenner's announcement that he identifies as a female was rife with potential for any number of prejudices and offensive messages to rear their heads via social networking (and yes, there were plenty of detractors who posted transphobic, homophobic, and just generally awful comments) but shockingly, those ugly words actually fell in the minority. The positive reinforcement Jenner received following the 20/20 broadcast was overwhelming, and, more than that, it was heartwarming and unifying in a way no major pop culture, or life event has been before.
Part of what makes modern society so wonderful and yet so terrifying at the same time is the level of connectivity we all have with every corner of the globe 24/7. Where we used to only have the occasional gossip magazine to pick up at the grocery store checkout, the invention of the Internet has changed things drastically and made every single moment in a celebrity's life (and in the lives of us normal people, obviously) available for public consumption. Considering the gravity of that makes Jenner's decision to discuss his true identity with the world that much more courageous and worthy of applause. Thankfully, his message was met with positive support, and Internet commentators have been overwhelmingly wonderful. During major events like this where much of the world is watching, this is rarely the case — so the fact that it was for Jenner is so important, and, hopefully, indicative that the way media outlets handle stories surrounding gender identity and sexual orientation is changing.
The positive message illustrate just how supportive many users on the social networking site were in response to Jenner's interview — and it's amazing considering Twitter can often be home to the worst trolls online. Thousands upon thousands of positive, supportive messages continue to be posted, and the amazing amount love and acceptance sent Jenner's way have, in some form, managed to sort of drown out the detractors. A unified Twitter has come together to stand behind Bruce Jenner, and in turn, it's stood behind a greater message of equality — and opened up a very important discussion we should be having about society.
I'd say that's a pretty big feat accomplished — now we just need to keep it up.
Editor’s Note: Per Jenner’s stated preference, Bustle will continue referring to Jenner using he/his pronouns for the time being. We will follow his lead and make any changes to this policy as needed in the future.