They can’t be classified as gay men or as transgender. But they have had a place in Neapolitan society for millennia, and their world is rooted in the folk culture and religion of the area — both pagan and Christian. Luca Fortis interviewed one of the most influential of them in Naples today, CiroCiretta. Below is my translation of their conversation.
CiroCiretta, how would you define femminiello culture?
I’ve always thought that it’s not the person but the geography that is central. It’s Naples with its many souls that makes the femminiello different. People who feel that they are not women or men but are both can be found in many different cultures; it is our land that makes a femminiello who s/he is. The human being is not at center stage, in fact a person is simply something covered in skin. It is the territory, the culture, the history that makes a femminiello embody the Neapolitan spirit. We often put a human being at the center, but it is the place that is central and enables the person to absorb its energy.
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