NAPLES, Italy — For the oldest child of a feared Camorra crime boss in southern Italy, the filial expectation was cruel but clear: to eventually run the family business. But Daniela Lourdes Falanga has defied expectations since childhood.
Rather than conform to parental assumptions and enter the world of intimidation, violence and murder, Falanga became the first trans woman to be elected president of a chapter of Arcigay, the oldest rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people in Italy.
“Fifty years after the Stonewall riots, we must defend [our fought-for] rights and shout our demands,” she said.
Falanga is also a social worker who counsels LGBTQ inmates in the Poggioreale prison in Naples, campaigning on behalf of those with “the most marginal experiences” – including those in sex work and detention. It is this work that eventually led her back to her father after 25 years apart.
Falanga, 41, grew up during the 1980s in Torre Annunziata close to Naples. Her father left the family shortly after Falanga’s birth to be with another woman, with whom he had four girls. But the extended family was expected to gather at the villa of the crime boss for a Sunday meal. Even though he had a new family, her father had plans for Falanga, as “the only male heir,” to follow him as the leader of the Camorra clan.