Choose Your Location
By: Niki Kapsambelis
June 29, 2022
If you ask Bianca Della-Penna to describe her coming-out story, she’ll tell you her honest opinion: it’s not all that interesting. And for that, she counts herself fortunate.
She was not exiled by her parents. She was not fired from her job. She was not shunned by her acquaintances. In fact, her family and friends embrace her for who she is.
But peel back a layer or two from the narrative, and there is an undercurrent of emotion that runs through Bianca’s story. It was still a journey, albeit one with a happy ending.
The daughter of a traditional Italian family, she worried about disclosing the fact that she is queer to her family. At the time, her father had expressed disagreement with the legalization of LGBTQ+ marriages. Her mother had called being gay a “lifestyle choice.”
So, Bianca spent a good portion of her early life closeted. She had a girlfriend in high school, but she hid that part of herself then and through college.
That changed when she was 25; she blurted out the truth to her mother and brother in an unplanned disclosure she describes as “chaotic,” with a laugh. A year later, she revealed the truth to her father and the rest of her family; her friends already knew.
It was a moment that made Bianca realize that the strongest bond in her family is unconditional love: “That stayed true when I was coming out,” she said. “My dad said, ‘I love you, and that’s OK.’”
Since then, Bianca has worked to help her family know what to say and why it’s important, and her family has learned and adapted. She is similarly open with her colleagues at Viatris, advocating for inclusivity in language as part of the Global Portfolio and Reputation Communications team. She is an active member of VIVID, the company’s employee resource group for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.
And even as she jokes that her coming-out story is “boring,” Bianca is grateful for her experiences: “My story is normal, and that’s something that doesn’t get seen a lot.”
For Bianca, Pride Month – celebrated in June in the United States, where she works – is a time of embracing people for who they are. Despite some of the more sobering history surrounding Pride (the June date links to New York City’s Stonewall Riots of 1969, protesting a police raid of a popular gay club), Bianca views the month as “this explosion of authenticity and happiness.”
“For a moment, we are given the space that we should always have, and it’s a blast,” she said.
She attended a Pride celebration in Brooklyn, New York, before she was fully out, with her ex-girlfriend from high school. They hadn’t been able to date publicly then. Ten years later, though they were no longer a couple, they celebrated the simple joy of acceptance together, at a rooftop party.
“This is my life, and there is literally nothing wrong with that. I feel accepted, normal, and celebrated in a way that I have never felt before,” Bianca recalls thinking.
“You’re never too late to your own coming out party.”