Claudia Ciocca, Director of Key Accounts and Languages, shares her experience of being an ally of the LGBTQ+ community and the importance of acceptance inside and outside of work.

This is my story of home I become an LGBTQ+ ally for life. I was 19 years old and an experience with a friend profoundly change me.

Since the age of 16 Marino has been my best friend. He was a couple of years older than me when he joined our class on the 3rd year of High School.

I grew up as part of a large extended family where most of my cousins were boys. I found it completely natural to befriend this cool guy who was different from anyone else I had ever met.

I’m a bit extravagant myself and Marino and I connected instantly. Over the years we built a great friendship based on common values, like equality and mutual respect.

As teenagers we were the life and soul of the class, always up to something. He was, and is, a natural comedian, a brilliant orator, a true friend and a great person.

The importance of ally’s and supporters of the LGBRQ+ community – no matter what your sexual orientation

Marino and I went to university at the same time at separate colleges in Milan. I will always remember the afternoon he come out to me.

It was a beautiful evening and we had met after class. We decided to walk back to the station instead of taking the metro. We were walking along an old tram line and Marino was talking about the area. I was new to the city and he explained that it was an area where gay people used to meet in Milan.

He stopped and said: “Claude, sit down I need to tell you something, you are my best friend and you need to know. Many people are not my friends anymore because of this but I rather you know than living in a lie.”

I had no idea what he was going to say. We were best friends for 3 years and over that time he was often telling me the most maddening stories.

I stopped, sat down and he looked me in the eyes and simply said, I am gay. To me, it made a lot of sense. Like finding the missing piece of a puzzle. It seemed so natural to me that I think my answer was something along the lines of ……and so?

Over the years we have often talked about the day he came out. How difficult it was for him to summon the courage, of his fear of losing our friendship, the fear of my judgment and dealing with living a lie up to that point.

As a straight woman, I can’t ever fully imagine the experience someone goes through coming out. The turmoil of emotions, all caused by the fear of openly being who you are.

Since that day, I have made a conscious effort to be open, accepting and supportive of every person, LGBTQ+ or otherwise, I meet, work with or call my friend.

The need to feel accepted and valued is human nature and should be a basic right for us all.

I am delighted to be working in a role and in a company that empowers me to continue promoting this LGBTQ+ causes.

That day where Marion came out to was now 25 years ago. Today Marino is engaged to be married to Gabriele, his partner for over 20 years. He’s picked me to be his best woman, an honour and happily a good ending to a story that often times society can force a different way.

Learn more about Pride Month at Cpl here