Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World
Secrets and lies of a mafia upbringing.
Published: March 15, 2013
by Rita Gigante
Exclusive interview with The Godfather’s Daughter.
Notorious crime boss, Vincent “The Chin” Gigante was not your ‘average’ mobster; he was, in fact, the Capo di tutti capi --the head of all five New York crime families: the Bonannos, Colombos, Gambinos, Genoveses, and Luccheses. In an effort to protect himself and his family, Gigante created a façade of a mentally unstable person, complete with public theatrics , often wearing his infamous Golden Nugget bathrobe around town. His story is most intriguing for the level of secretiveness it has maintained. Finally, six years after his death, Vincent’s youngest daughter Rita pens a tell-all of her life growing up with the most powerful mafia leader of that time in her new book, The Godfather’s Daughter. We sat down with Rita to find out more about how she learned to forgive her family and transform her life.
HEALYOURLIFE: After so many years having to keep quiet about your father and your life, what inspired you to finally speak out and write this book?
RITA: The inspiration began about 13 years ago. I started to see the changes in myself as I began to speak up about who I was and began to live my life as authentically as possible. I saw how much healthier and happier I was physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally and I started to share that with people so that they could also stand in their truth and do the same. I knew I couldn’t write it while my father was alive...and after he passed, I knew I had to give my family time to grieve. The timing is right now.
HEALYOURLIFE: What mafia-related moments did you witness behind the scenes in your father's world as The Godfather's Daughter?
RITA: So much of it comes from a child’s perspective: I would see my father sit around the dining room table with these men who revered him. They’d whisper to each other and pass little notes, then burn them or flush them down the toilet. I had no idea what was going on until I was sixteen, but I would see it...and I kept feeling, “something’s not right here.” For sixteen years, my family told me that my father was sick and couldn’t work at a job. But he looked very healthy and in charge to me. It didn’t add up.
HEALYOURLIFE: How did you fight against, struggle, and then finally accept your sexuality?
RITA: To appease the family, I dressed a certain way, I dated boys even though it didn’t feel right to me, and I had to sneak around to live the life that did feel right.
I realized I was gay as a child, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I knew enough to know the family wouldn’t be happy, so I hid it and I felt guilty about it. I finally realized I couldn’t hide anymore because this is who I was and I was getting physically sick from hiding. I didn’t want to hide and be sick anymore. I realized it was nothing to feel guilty about and that what they tried to teach me—that I was going to hell—was wrong and out of ignorance.
HEALYOURLIFE: You felt like an outsider as a child in school, compared to the other kids...and also, in your own family. What advice would you give someone who feels different in their world?
RITA: I’d say being different is good because it makes you unique. But the flip side of that is knowing that deep down, we are all the same: We all want to be loved, supported, and accepted. Don’t be afraid to be who you are, there is no need to shrink your beautiful light. The main messages I hope my book gives is to not be judgmental of yourself and others, to forgive yourself and others, think for yourself, honor and trust your instincts, and live your truth.
HEALYOURLIFE: When and how did you realize you were a healer?
RITA: I was born a healer, but I didn’t realize it until my mid twenties. I was always helping friends with advice in high school, they would come to me and in a way, I healed with words. The other part came when I was working as a massage therapist in my mid-twenties. As I put my hands on people’s bodies, I could feel the energy exchange between us and God and I’d pick up on information about the person.
HEALYOURLIFE: You say we all have "spiritual contracts" with each other. What does that mean?
RITA: Spiritual contracts are deals that we make and design in the soul realm or “heaven”—before we come here, to this earth. We choose our family and friends and all the people we will come into contact with who will best help us learn our lessons while we are here. For example, I had a contract with my father. I said to him, “Teach me how to stand in my truth and hold onto my beliefs no matter what” and he said, “Absolutely!” I had contracts with my mother, my sisters, and my brothers—we all do.
We’re all part of a big play and we cast the characters that will help us play it all out so that we evolve on a soul level.
Rita Gigante has dedicated her adult life to healing people spiritually, emotionally, and physically. She has a degree in exercise physiology and is a licensed massage therapist and Reiki master.