I SEE U, Episode 81: A Mistranslation of Biblical Proportions with Documentarian Sharon “Rocky” Roggio [Encore]

Documentarian Sharon “Rocky” Roggio presents a compelling case in her directorial film debut that Christian opposition to homosexuality is based on a 1946 biblical mistranslation of Greek text. This episode is an encore of the April 8, 2023 original broadcast.

1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted the Culture Director, Sharon "Rocky" Roggio.


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Nearly 80 years ago, a group of Yale scholars decided amongst themselves to add the word, “homosexual,” in the Bible after mistranslating Greek text. Researchers have said this mistake changed the course of modern history as we know it. The misinterpretation also caused a lesbian Christian to explore this incident and earn the trust of those same researchers by capturing their discovery on film. Join us as host Eddie Robinson speaks candidly with Sharon “Rocky” Roggio, the director behind the controversial film, “1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture.” Roggio provides I SEE U with an in-depth look at how this misinterpretation came about and what the evidence from the translation committee revealed. We’ll also learn more about how she navigated through her own religious environment as well as her desire to change a narrative that speaks to all LGBTQ individuals being acknowledged as equals – and not be seen as “others,” or “less than.” Despite the documentary receiving backlash from religious writers who, according to the director, haven’t seen the film, “1946” has already picked up praise and several prestigious awards during its festival circuit quest.


Full Transcript

Eddie Robinson: Nearly 80 years ago, a group of scholars decided amongst themselves to add a word in the Bible. And researchers say this mistranslation changed the course of modern history as we know it.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: It’s really interesting to see how translation committees will cling to an ideology that then supports their worldview as opposed to just really trying to get down to the truth of this scripture.

Eddie Robinson: I’m Eddie Robinson and stay tuned as we chat unguarded with film director Sharon Rocky Rosio. Her documentary is called 1946, the Mistranslation That Shifted Culture. We’ll take an in-depth look. At the real meaning behind the documentary and why so many religious writers have been critical about the content before the film’s expanded release.

Eddie Robinson: Oh yeah. I feel you. We hear you. I see you. You are listening to I SEE U. I’m your host, Eddie Robinson.

Eddie Robinson: You’ve just heard snippets of audio of the trailer for a documentary that looks to uncover the origins of homophobia and hate in this country. We’re joined by an award-winning producer director who has nearly two decades of experience in the film and television industry. She’s worked with some incredible actors and acclaimed directors on previous projects, including three Time Academy Award nominee Sigourney Weaver Academy Award winner Jennifer Connolly and acclaimed directors Rob Reiner and David Fincher. She’s here on I SEE U to talk about her very provocative film that already has a plethora of critics talking about it. That’s why we’re so thrilled to have with us,

Eddie Robinson: Sharon, “Rocky” Roggio, thank you so much for being a guest on I SEE U.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Hi Eddie. Thank you for having me. It’s an honor.

Eddie Robinson: 1946, that was a very intense year, and you have really made it known with this new documentary, 1946, the Mistranslation that shifted Culture. The film alleges that a minor. Accident and translation.

Eddie Robinson: Air quotes. Minor is responsible for much of the homophobia that’s impacted gay culture for years. For decades. The film sheds a bit of light on you as the director, uh, as well as historians and researchers who begin to trace origins of the anti-gay movement among Christians. To a distinct mistranslation of the Bible in 1946.

Eddie Robinson: Explain to us what this misinterpretation is. Sure. And why you believe a film like this matters to get it out into the universe, to inform the public about this misinterpretation go. Sure.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Yeah. So I stumbled upon this research that Kathy Bullock, And Ed Oxford, two lay researchers who just wanted to answer the question themselves.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Who made this decision to put the word homosexual in the Bible? And why?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And it led them to the basement of Yale University where they discovered archives and letters. Explaining their theory, proving their theory that it was in fact a mistranslation, and look at the devastation that it led to.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: I’m just fortunate enough to have stumbled upon the research and then won the trust of the, of the researchers to be able to tell this story because as an LGBTQ Christian and someone impacted by religious trauma, I know the impact of this mistranslation firsthand.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: But as I was saying earlier, I know the impact of how the Bible has been used as a weapon, not only for the LGBTQ community, but for multiple communities. We are just. Next, in a long list of others. And so I was compelled to literally quit my job.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Invest money, do everything I I could. And for the last four years to get this important story told. Now we all know that homophobia has plagued our reality for human existence. This is not new, but what we discover in the film is that obviously words matter, right? Sticks and stones. And so when you mistranslate something, as one of our wonderful scholars, Dr. Angela Parker says, there’s a power that you put out behind this translation. Their people. And it’s so important to get this right. And we do see modern academic scholars taking it very seriously. And as we show in the film, they’ve updated it to illicit sex and what is illicit and with whom, you know. And so we start to ask these questions of cultural construct instead of a blanket condemnation on a group of people, which is what we see the mistranslation led to.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And then we also see how the moral majority and people. Jerry Falwell then used the Bible deliberately for their political agenda to against an innocent group of people in the eighties. And we have evidence of this. And so we look at the unfortunate history. That some people have, have gone down in abusing this scripture.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Um, but we do end with hope because there’s always hope.

Eddie Robinson: I want to get some insight on the actual misinterpretation. Let’s, let’s be clear, you know, to the audience as to what’s going on with, you know, what that verse is. What’s going, you know, what’s the word? What, why was it being misinterpreted? Let’s get some more details there as to, you know, the Greek origins of it, you know, what is the misinterpretation?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Sure. In 1946, the revised standard version wanted to modern. The text from the 1611 King James version, which was the most popular and still is a very popular Bible, and they were the ones to first put the word homosexual in First Corinthians six, nine through 10.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And in the King James, that verse reads abusers of themselves with mankind. It’s basically a vice list that Paul is saying. These are the kinds of people that will not it into heaven. And there’s usually a victim or a consequence on the other side of these lists. Right now. Um, what had happened was there, on this vice list, there are two Greek words, malakoi and a arsenokoitai.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: What do these words mean? They’re sep two separate words, but the translation committee had combined them to a modern term homosexual. The problem is, is malakoi can mean a lot of different things. It can mean soft to be like a coward. You’re a sissy, but basically what it is is feminizing men. And we see that today.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: That’s nothing new. So effeminate is kind of loosely translated for malakoi, but it’s a slur. It’s feminine, it’s, and so some of the other definitions of that would be, you know, you’ve read too many books, you’ve, you like gourmet food, excess, this is all about excess when you take things to the extreme. So think of it along those.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Now a penetrated man was also a malakoi because again, it’s a slur. Think of it along these lines. And the last thing you wanna be as a man is treated like a woman. Now, a lot of these malakoi situations were non-consensual. They were either pederastic relationships, so it was sex with a young boy, you know?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Uh, it was also sex for money. It could be. And a lot of the things that were going on there now with the arsenokoitai is the. Figure and a privileged man would be the penetrate tour. And so if you were a arsenokoitai, if you were a, a privileged, powerful man. You could penetrate anything that you wanted, be it woman, child, or an enslaved person.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And so sex was something you used to do to something to someone, not something you did with someone.

Eddie Robinson: Mm-hmm.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: So if we can start to think about along those lines, that’s what the malakoi is really meaning in the arsenokoitai. And so if you look at history, it is men having sex with men, but what kind of sex are they having and what is really going on here?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: This is not loving consensual re uh, relationship. It’s just not even close to that. They didn’t even have any concept of that. But what happened was the, this is. Unfortunate mistake was in 1946 when the Bible was published. They did the work 10 years prior, and you have a translation committee who was born in the late 18 hundreds to early 19 hundreds who still don’t have a real understanding of what a homosexual is.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: What are homosexuals? And at the time, homosexual vices is really what they were referring to, which means abusive a again, excessive aggressive, there’s a victim on the other side. It’s usually rape, those kinds of themes. But because they didn’t have an understanding of what homosexuals were, and it was a modern term at a very new.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: They just saw, oh, it’s a ma, it’s it’s men having sex, and what do we see in the culture? And they just SL put the word in. They just put it in. But once they were challenged on it, the translation committee was wise enough to see the mistake and they changed it. But what we learned in the film was the problem is, Is the word went viral in the seventies in print.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: In other translations who used the revised standard version as their root text, they may or may not have cared about homosexuals. They may or may not. They have known what they were doing when they were using that word. They may or may not have cared. We don’t see malice until the 1980s when the Morrow majority of Jerry Falwell amplified the word and used it as a political tool.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: We can only assume and we can only go off the data. But that’s the history there and that’s really what’s going on.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And then lastly, the other unfortunate thing is those Bible translation committees in the seventies then took the word homosexual where it was only in one verse. One Corinthians six nine and they put it in multiple verses in a paraphrased Bible that’s not even academically correct and started just slapping the word homosexual in multiple verses where it doesn’t belong.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And those verses are what we call the clobber verses today that the church uses to clobber LGBTQ peoples.

Eddie Robinson: And do you believe that a correct translation of the verses that mentioned homosexuality would’ve prevent? Violence that we see against members of the LGBTQ community today and back then?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Yeah, that’s a great question.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: You know, we can only hope that it wouldn’t have been as bad. Would it have changed everything? We don’t know. Would gay people still be persecuted? Probably. It’s, again, it takes a long time for these things to break down, but as we learn in the film in the seventies with the APA declassified. Homosexuality if once society had deemed us, okay, that’s when we see the church stepping in and taking over and saying, oh no, this is a moral issue for the first time in history.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And so if the Bible had not used the word homosexual, would there have been quite a pushback from the church? We may never know, but may or may not. I would like to say no, but we can only.

Eddie Robinson: Kathy Baldock, the author that plays a very instrumental role in the film. She says a quote at the very beginning and, and it rings true to me even today and I’m wondering if it does with you as well. She says, it was not that gay people wanted nothing to do with church. It was that the church wanted nothing to do with gay people.

Eddie Robinson: I mean, as a man who’s gay and I still attend church, you know, I still do find solace and healing in the church, but there still exists this sense of unwelcomeness to being open about it. Right? There’s an inclusiveness that’s still missing and I want to get your insight on, you know, Whether or not you think that quote still resonates today, that Kathy mentioned it.

Eddie Robinson: It was not that gay people wanted nothing to do with church. It was that church wanted nothing to do with them.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Yeah. It might be resonating a little bit more and we are seeing a split in churches. We’re seeing affirming churches and non-farming churches, and we’re seeing churches really taking a stance.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: On this non affirming side, and then other churches really on the affirming side saying, no, you’re fully welcome. We’re also seeing middle ground churches, which in my opinion are not helpful. Uh, but they do also, and I have to be, I have to really remember of our parents and other people who do go to those churches too, that it is helpful because again, it takes time and it takes years.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: So I am grateful for them, but I, I, in my opinion, you know, to still say, You could be gay, but you just can’t have sex. Or you, you know, you, you’re, it’s still a sin, but you’re welcome here, you know, it, it’s, it’s, you’re still less of a whole, you’re, we’re not equal people, and so I’d rather be fully identified as a full person and equal in that community, or at least know that I’m not gonna be equal.

Eddie Robinson: Mm-hmm.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: You know, in that community. The, the problem is, is with evangelical and fundamentalist ideology. It’s exclusionary by definition, and I see the gospel as being all inclusive. And so until they’re able to recognize that we’re all part of the kingdom of God and it, it doesn’t take works for us to achieve grace through God, which is really what the Bible.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And the church has a long history of creating an other, and so does, so does humanity. It’s not us, it’s them. And so that’s also seeped into the psyche of an evangelical church. And so it just becomes natural to be like, well, those are the still the dirty homosexuals, so we don’t want them here. So yeah, I still think that that holds true today when you think of it along those lines.

Eddie Robinson: It’s I SEE U. I’m Eddie Robinson, and we’re chatting with film director Sharon Rocky Rosio, her documentary 1946. The Mistranslation that Shifted Culture is already picking up award recognition at regional film festivals, but it’s also receiving some backlash from religious critics. Many haven’t even seen the film yet.

Eddie Robinson: What, what do you want viewers to take away from this film after they’ve watched?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Well, we would like people to. Have broader conversations with one another to just take a step back from whatever reality you come from and say, well, maybe we, we might have this wrong. We, this is a historical, academic, relational, jour, journalistic approach to a real mistranslation.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And if we can just begin there, I think that we can start. Broader conversations, and as one of our other lovely scholars says, uh, Dr. Cheryl Anderson, she wants people to know that the Bible doesn’t have to hurt. You know?

Eddie Robinson: Mm-hmm.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Uh, and we’re using it wrong, and that’s a really important lesson as well, but parents, educators, faith leaders, we, we have to have a serious talk, so jokingly, the producers, we say This is an intervention with the world.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And so hopefully everybody will come and sit down because we all deserve a seat at the table. We all have a voice. And if we’re, if we’re doing things that are harming people, we need to examine it.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: That’s fascinating you say that because in some instances when you think of the Bible and you think of Christianity, you think of religion.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: It there’s, there’s a sense of hurt, conviction, pain, suffering. All of these words tend to just kind of hit home right as it relates to religion. And somehow we don’t get to talk about love as often. Intimacy as often. Acceptance as often, and I’m under the impression that week. Yeah. It’s interesting you think what God is, I mean, what,

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: why they say that the definition of sin is to miss the mark.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And I think the church is missing the mark wildly in this, in, in not just this debate, but in a lot of different debates in this love in social justice way that we as progressive Christ, View the Bible. But one thing that we do say in the film that is really important because this is not an attack on the Bible.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: It is not an attack on Christianity. This is not an attack on anybody’s faith. This is a real exploration about a mistranslation, but we believe that our oppressors who are hurting us, Are our loved ones are our family members. They’re victims of bad theology just like we are. And so, you know, it, it just, it takes time sometimes to break down these walls when you’re dealing with dogma over data, you know, and, and faith is a wonderful thing.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Again, we don’t want anybody to lose their faith or feel, you know, this is going to. Unborn people, right? And we don’t want them drifting out to sea as they’re now feeling lost because, well, if this is wrong, what else is wrong? You know? So we made sure to finesse these notes with great care because these are our mothers and our fathers and our brothers and our sisters, and people that we love dearly, and we need to do better, not just as the church missing the mark, uh, but as us as a.

Eddie Robinson: So feedback, I mean, when was when the films been sort of like been released? How long?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: So we had our world premiere at Doc nyc. In New York City on November 12th, 2022, and we won the Audience award, which is a very prestigious, coveted award out of 300 films. It was quite an honor as my, this is my directorial debut, and again, we really wanted to finesse and take great care in the movie and have it be exciting and fun and go on a journey with us.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: But it’s not fun. It’s horrible, but it’s also exciting because there’s hope and there’s, we’re in the archives, it’s like a mystery thriller, political thriller. Yes. And so we take you on this journey and it’s just been wonderful to see the work received and appreciated and. People talking about it, not only on the side of the people who are giving us awards for the work, but the opposition.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: They’re talking about it. They’ve been talking about it for years. We had a book written about us trying to debunk our movie, A movie they’ve never seen. Hundreds of radio shows, YouTube videos, podcasts, news articles. They’re still doing it and they still haven’t seen the movie and it’s been released, uh, kind of.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: So be patient. Yeah, we’re going wide.

Eddie Robinson: Coming up, we’ll continue our chat with Sharon “Rocky” Roggio and find out more about her controversial documentary called 1946, the Mistranslation That Shifted a Culture. She’ll Explain how filmmakers decided at the very last minute to feature the director’s personal. Plus, with so much criticism and backlash from religious groups and organizations who’ve never seen this film, will certain audience members be surprised at the general message this documentary is trying to convey?

Eddie Robinson: I’m Eddie Robinson. Our second segment of I SEE U comes your way right after this.

Eddie Robinson: If you’re enjoying this program, please be sure to subscribe to our podcast I SEE U with Eddie Robinson. You can hear all the past episodes and be notified when new episodes are released. Also, please take a minute to give us a review or comment. We love getting feedback from our listeners.

Eddie Robinson: You’re listening to I SEE U. I’m Eddie Robinson, and we’re speaking with film director Sharon “Rocky” Roggio. Her very controversial documentary, 1946, the Mistranslation that shifted Culture alleges that a minor accident in translation is responsible for much of the homophobia that’s impacted gay and queer culture.

Eddie Robinson: For years. For decades, the film sheds a bit of light on the director as well as historians and researchers who begin to trace origins of the anti-gay movement among Christ. To a distinct mistranslation of the Bible in 1946. Scholars say this was the first time the word homosexual appears in the Bible.

Eddie Robinson: It’s so interesting how, you know, in the beginning of the film, you know, you read a letter, you know, sent to you from your father, and I’m curious. How did reading that letter from your father make you feel? Even, you know, as you were reading the letter is, is, is this something that was a common practice for your father to write letters to you?

Eddie Robinson: Did this particular letter catch you by surprise? I mean, you know, what, what was going on? With this particular letter and how, how it made you feel, um, when you found…

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: the actual contents of the letter was really upsetting, as you can imagine, and I wasn’t really expecting that, but I didn’t expect less for my dad.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: My dad is very vocal on his point of view and he. Is outspoken in the community. He was always at the school board meetings instilling his point of view from a Christian perspective into the public school systems. And so that was the first thing that I noticed growing up as a youth, the things that he would counter in, uh, secular.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Public school systems. Yeah. And I always wondered why he didn’t just put us in a Christian school, you know? So the pushback is something that he does. And the, you know, he’s a, he’s a preacher, he’s convicted, and that’s one of the things we learn about my dad throughout the movie. He’s a, he’s a very convicted man.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And so he, the sows of the world are, you know, hi. Him being in the film was very important so that people can really see there are a lot of sows out there, you know, and so, and I’ve heard a. Other LGBTQ people say, Hey, I got a letter just like that too. So it’s not even really pastors. I think parents just care about their kids and they’re taught this ideology.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And my, my parents told me years later that after they discovered I was LGBTQ through reading my diary. Spoiler alert, if you’re watching, if you’re listening to this, there’s some spoilers in there. But my father and mother went through a mourning period. Like they had just suffered a loss. And that’s another thing that I hear a lot through cri Christian counseling, you know?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: So I think in desperation, and they really were fearful for my eternal soul. They thought I was going to burn in hell for the rest of my life. And so out of desperation, they were, they. You know, my dad wrote the letter, but that’s another thing we need to break down. And I, I’ve seen a shift in my father from that point of view to, well, you can be gay and get into heaven.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: You know, and so it just takes time. What he wrote in that letter years ago, he might not. Fully believed today, but he’s still side X. Now we’re getting into the weeds. Side X means you can’t even call yourself gay and Christian. You know, you can’t identify as being LGBTQ. You need to repent and fix this desire.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And then there’s side Y and side B and side A, which is fully affirming. And we don’t need to get into the weeds here, but we can maybe on another show. All right. Right.

Eddie Robinson: But that was, that was actually gonna be my next question about how your father. You know, even though in the film it just appears that he’s staunch, you know, religious, this religious individual, and it reminds me of people in my life, my parents, you know, and it’s these, you know, you cannot change my way of thinking.

Eddie Robinson: I shall, I shall not be moved. You know, homosexuality is wrong. Turn to God and repent. There are no ifs, ands, buts, howevers, and I admire your father. Being that voice. Right. And I, and I do believe that that voice was needed in this film so that there was, you know, a sense of, I don’t wanna say use the word balance, but I mean it was a conviction that he portrayed that it really feels like, you know, a lot of other people.

Eddie Robinson: Relationships with their own family members, uh, who have these kinds of feelings as well. And I was gonna ask if whether or not, if he still feels this way, and it sounds like he has been making some sort of transformations here and there.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Yeah, so for six time, that was the 20 year transformation. Now he, he’s been coming to the conferences as you see in the movie, and eating gay Christians.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: So, I think can see a sense of, of the spirit in a gay person now, but we still are sinning, you know,

Eddie Robinson: it, it cor okay.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio:But it’s, it’s progress. You know? It’s progress and yeah. We don’t need the, the moral of that storyline is we don’t need to change everybody’s minds to. Big conversations and to still be in each other’s lives and not everybody’s going to change their mind, and that’s okay.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: But enough people will see the research and will hopefully be able to relinquish that stubbornness, which is hard for people to let go. And I don’t fault him on that. It’s painful to. I’m sure he hopes that one day I still change, you know? And so I’m sure my existence is painful for him to experience, but how do we live together and how do other family members live together because we’re, you know, as painful as it is sometimes to go home and have dinner with my family.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: I go home and I have dinner with my family, and guess what? They invite me. You know, so it was a good example. It was a good, I’m so grateful he was in the movie.

Eddie Robinson: Yeah, and it also speaks volumes to whether or not these kinds of conversations and dialogues need to take place with people’s parents, with their loved ones.

Eddie Robinson: And I do believe that, you know, it’s, it, it would be encouraged. I loved your dialogue back and forth with your father and how a. Those discussions can be. Um, and you know, I, I remember at the very end he said something like, you know, we are very much alike. Everybody knows that, you know, there still seemed to be a clash of attitudes.

Eddie Robinson: Both of you are standing your ground with your ideologies and that’s a cool thing to watch. But what was your take on that scene? I honestly believe more and more sons and daughters who are gay, who are. Should really have these kinds of conversations and dialogues with their parents, with their loved ones, and they’ll find some interesting discoveries along the way.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Sure. Those convers…

Eddie Robinson: and not yelling, which was great there.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Well, we edited. No, I, you know, I mean, we didn’t yell. My father and I don’t yell at each other, but That’s awesome. You could see I was getting emotionally upset. Exactly. And so I get excited and. But it, that, that conversation was, was pretty calm and, and we’ve learned to be calm.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: It’s just more heartbreaking, you know, and frustrating. It’s like you just, you can’t, you can’t, it’s like hitting a ball when you’re dealing with dogma over data and they won’t even look at new information and just look at the new information. You know, like, this is, so, it’s very frustrating. And then you just feel like you want to explode, but, I prepared myself for it.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: I had my friends there, obviously, and we’ve been dealing with this for 25 years now. I’m, you can just do the math, how you know, but if I was in high school and so, so we’ve learned to deal with it as best we can and so my advice. To anybody who might wanna have those conversations would be be prepared.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: No, it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be very painful. It could end in a yelling match and running out of the house and shutting the door. You don’t wanna do that, but it happens and it’s okay. Like how do you come back from that? Like, do you cool off for a second? Do you come back? I don’t know. I don’t know how to properly prepare in every situ.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Different. But I would say just be ready with a, a support group.

Eddie Robinson: Yes.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Make sure you’re in a safe space if, make sure that you’re living on your own. If you’re living in an environment where you feel your parents are gonna kick you out. Don’t lie, we, uh, would never encourage anybody to lie, but you don’t have to tell right now, just give, you know, wait until you know that you’re in a safe space.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: So these are really big issues to deal with as we are trying to be more authentic with our loved ones because there are safety issues to be concerned about.

Eddie Robinson: That’s so true. So true.

Eddie Robinson: It’s I SEE U. I’m Eddie Robinson, and we’re chatting with film director Sharon “Rocky” Roggio. Her directorial debut is a documentary entitled 1946, the Mistranslation That Shifted Culture.

Eddie Robinson: Again, the both of us are tiptoeing throughout the documentary so that we won’t reveal too much, but were you at all conflicted about. Leaving home, not communicating with your father for a period of time. And

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: yeah, I wasn’t, I always kind of felt there was something off with the I ideology. I was being presented my entire life.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And so it was very easy for me to walk away because I didn’t feel safe in my own environment. I didn’t feel seen. And I wasn’t going to live under his rules. I was 18 and I was, I’ve, I had had enough because at the end of the letter there was a list of rules and requirements moving forward, you know, and I know who I am and so I was like, I’ll just, I’m just gonna do it on my own.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And I left and I’ve been doing it on my own ever since. And I’ll tell you one thing, Eddie, it’s not easy. It’s been really hard. I’ve had a interesting life trying to get to now 45 and having a directorial debut and being able to tell my life story, which I never thought I’d I’d ever do, but those years in between have always been a struggle, not only with the obvious drugs and alcohol and self-loathing, but loneliness.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And, you know, it’s, it’s painful. And so as you see in the film, I always went back and they were gracious enough to always take me back so that because they love me, like this is a love story. There’s, there’s definitely not an absence of love here. It’s just a misunderstanding through a mistranslation that hopefully we can start breaking down these walls.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And so I’m very grateful that my parents always took me back.

Eddie Robinson: Yeah, same here. You know, very grateful for my parents. My mom and dad didn’t speak to me for a year. When I came out to them over the phone, you know, I was in my thirties living in New York City, but my late father who died in 2018, 10 years prior to that, he was the one who broke the silence and finally said to me, we love you.

Eddie Robinson: We miss you. You know, growing up, I had no brothers, no sisters. I lived in the deep south. I rushed to New York for that creative freedom and support. It really is interesting to see how a mistranslation, homophobia aside, could still cause such huge impacts on family dynamics, even with family members who are Christian.

Eddie Robinson: Share with us, Rocky, you know, what it was like for you growing up.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Sure. So our house was very much church first. And my mother worked, my dad worked for the church. He was always church building. And so his ministry now is about 35 years old in South Jersey. And…

Eddie Robinson: wow.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: They’ve got a huge building with a big theater.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: They do, you know, Christmas presentations and they’ve got an outdoor theater where they have movie screenings and big play booths and parties for the community, and he’s. Proud of the community that he’s built and his vision that he’s seen. Uh, but for many of those years growing up it was church planting.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: So we were in basements or, you know, renting buildings as he was seeing his vision. And I, I could tell right away that this is something that, for my father was his life. That it was his, his whole desire

Eddie Robinson: Sure.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Was building this community. And so, I would just see the church grow and, uh, from, I mean, honestly, we had meetings for many years in an Elks lodge with a bar next to us.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Well, right. Exactly. You know, while my dad was building his first building, um, you know, but yeah, he just, the normal Sunday school and Wednesday and Sunday night.

Eddie Robinson: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: But I, I. Me, for me, what was missing

Eddie Robinson: Yes.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Was outside activity. Even a vacation. We never took a vacation. We went on like one trip and it was a church sponsored trip.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: You know, anywhere we would go would always, we did go to, uh, Israel when I was right, right after I got kicked out, I came back, or, you know, I left a couple years later they were going to Israel and I was like, I’m going on that trip. Uh, but it’s always church sponsored, you know? And so, What I would see is my dad, who’s so almost addicted to his missions, that he wasn’t really able to do anything else.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Or we would be outside doing something else. Like if we did leave the state for something, he needed to come immediately back, you know? And so I always thought that was kind of curious growing up.

Eddie Robinson: And you really didn’t wanna reveal to anyone your own thoughts and feelings and desires, you know, as relates to your own personal life, but you decided, you know, to write it in a diary.

Eddie Robinson: But those conflicts, I’m sure, you know, impacted you tremendously, you know, personally and sort of guided you into wanting to get into a film like 1940.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Yeah, well, I never made a diary. Ever since then, I’ve, I stopped documenting my life and, and really the producers and I never thought that I would ever be in this documentary.

Eddie Robinson: Oh.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: We had other, Cathy and Ed are the lead protagonists. Another person who wrote the letter, which we will have to, let’s not give too many spoilers away.

Eddie Robinson: Sure, sure.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: But we were looking for obviously theologians, but then a case study or people who could get, tell us their story of a personal experience. But we were really looking to. Diversify the cast got it more. And so we had auditioned a ton of different scenarios of who is that gonna be? And one of ’em was a gentleman called Brother Ben, who has his own experience of being a black gay minister who had

Eddie Robinson: mm-hmm.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Exercised the demonn for many years and then wrote a book about now being affirming and having his own way of ministry, you know, and so he was the preacher’s kid kind of story. But Sal showed. And when my dad showed up, we didn’t have that voice. And so it was really important for us to be in the movie.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And so, you know, I’m, my story isn’t unique. Unfortunately, you know, but Sal gave us that side that we really needed. And so, and that’s why you see us scrambling in the beginning of the movie. We’re like, what are we gonna do? Like, I’m not gonna sit down and interview myself in my own movie. Got it. You know?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Yeah, sure. So, so that’s why we broke the fourth wall. Interesting. Kind of like did the, inviting the audience to kind of take the journey with us. Cause I’m like, well, I’m just gonna make a documentary and now I guess I have to tell my story. You know, I was like so nervous. I’m like, what do I do? You know?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: She’s like, just tell me about your childhood.

Eddie Robinson: Interesting.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Yeah.

Eddie Robinson: So interesting.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: That’s kind of how it all, and that happened two years after we started making the movie.

Eddie Robinson: Geez.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Yeah. We got Sal aside. It was about a year, it was a year after we started making the movie. We did film my dad the first day because he was there when we filmed Cathy and Ed.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: It was 2018 when my dad got up and challenged Cathy and. But we still don’t have, didn’t have his permission. I just kind of threw a camera crew in a conference. That’s interesting. You know, and a year later when we didn’t give him the microphone to ask a question, he signed a release for him and he is like, I’m ready to talk.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Or like, great, have a seat. Yeah. Awesome. But it also gave him trust too in that year to see how I was making the movie, you know, and to, it took a lot of trust for him to, to let me edit him, you know?

Eddie Robinson: Coming up, we’ll wrap up our chat with film director Sharon “Rocky” Roggio and her film 1946, the Mistranslation That Shifted a Culture. We’ll get her insight as to what it really means to be a gay Christian, and what are some solutions, how should we move? What will it take for there to be equitable representation of gay voices and images in the media, regardless of religion or political affiliation?

Eddie Robinson: I’m Eddie Robinson. We grapple with these questions and more in our final segment of I SEE U. We’ll be right back.

Eddie Robinson: If you’re enjoying this program, please be sure to subscribe to our podcast. I SEE U with Eddie Robinson. You can hear all the past episodes and be notified when new episodes are released. Also, please take a minute to give us a review or comment. We love getting feedback from our listeners.

Eddie Robinson: This is I SEE U. I’m your host Eddie Robinson, and we’ve been speaking with Sharon “Rocky” Roggio. Her directorial debut is a provocative documentary entitled 1946. The mistranslation that shifted culture. The movie seeks to find answers involving the use of the word homosexual in the modern American Bible.

Eddie Robinson: Researchers say this word was used for the first time in 1946 as biblical scholars at Yale. Mistranslated Greek text and historians in the documentary say it was this mistake that’s caused so much shame, hatred, and homophobia towards members of the gay and queer communities for decades. The film, Texas, on a journey with those researchers as they investigate the origins of this incident, including.

Eddie Robinson: Some surprise moments that really get at the heart of understanding differences in culture and the intersection between religion and sexual orientation here in this country.

Eddie Robinson: In our production meetings in preparing for this interview, you know, there was something that was mentioned about an argument of the word virgin, that it was added to the Bible in the year 1970 as a mistranslation from the word maiden. Maiden originally was used as a term for young women, not necessarily, you know, someone who had not had sex.

Eddie Robinson: You know, were you aware of this maiden misinterpretation and, you know, if, if we were to examine both these mistakes, you know, one dealing with homosexuality, one, um, dealing with, you know, virginity, What do you, what do you think this says about how society views sin and this concept of homosexuality and the concept of sex before marriage?

Eddie Robinson: What do you think this ultimate message is saying here?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: That ultimate message sounds like control and also controlling a narrative and not being, Academically correct to the text because the revised standard version that we were talking about that first used the word homosexual, they were actually and still are one of the top academic teams to put together a Bible.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: So they used the term young woman for Mary instead of Virgin, and the conservative church was up, they were uproared about it, and so nobody was talking about the 1940. Homosexual mistranslation. They were more concerned about Mary not being a virgin anymore. And there were some other concerns as well.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: But yes, that was one of them. And that’s one of the discoveries in the archives that Kathy and Ed pulled out. There was actual dialogue about that mist. It wasn’t a mistranslation, it was actually an accurate translation. But I guess you can’t be a virgin and a young woman at the same time, you know? But we are looking to put together an academic.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Interpretation of the scripture, you know? So yeah, it’s really interesting to see how translation committees will clinging to an ideology that then supports their worldview as opposed to just really trying to get down to the truth of what of of the scripture. But at the end of the day, as we were saying earlier, it really should be as simple.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and love your neighbors yourself. And if we can just all learn to love a little bit better and put that social ju, so we were saying that Christian is a bad word, right? Nowadays, like, and so I identify as a gay Christian, and sometimes I get double looks, you know, it’s like, wait, what?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: You’re a Christian. And so I really prefer to say something more along the lines of a Christ follower, because if you’re. Following what Jesus taught and, and the example of how to live in the world. He never said anything about sex workers, text collectors. He hung out with ’em. Instead, it was all the elites, the politicians, the ministers, the rabbis, you know, people in power.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And so again, I think the church is missing the mark on this one.

Eddie Robinson: And that’s exactly the question that I was gonna ask you. What’s it been like for you living between two worlds, being part of the Christian community, but also being a part of the LGBTQ community? You know, do you ever feel like you fit into both or have you felt like you’ve been an outsider in each?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: It’s tricky and sometimes I feel like an outsider in each. For me, I’m just grateful to be able to connect with people, to build community, to be able to have a mission that I can stand behind that is helping people that’s changing lives. It’s already helped so many people, and so if I need to be this vessel to come in and.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Build a bridge between the Christian community and the LGBTQ community. I am happy to do it and my arms are out wided, so if you need a hand to hold, you can come hold mine.

Eddie Robinson: I’m Eddie Robinson and you’re listening to I SEE U our guest has been filmed Director Sharon “Rock”y Roggio. She’s been here chatting with us to talk about her documentary 1946, the Mistranslation that Shifted. I do wanna mention very quickly this notion of intimacy because it was briefly mentioned in the film.

Eddie Robinson: Again, I don’t wanna give too much away. Um, but it, it really is a fascinating sort of revelation, uh, that happens in the film. And the question was brought up about being gay and challenging the theology a person grew up with. Might have played a role in steering that person away from being intimate with someone.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And on top of it, it’s, it’s emotional intimacy.

Eddie Robinson: Yes.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: You know, and knowing how to connect with people. I, I struggle with it all the time. I might be overexcited or I give too much away when I, you know, or I’m too shy. I don’t know. You know, it’s just like, I always feel that communicating.

Eddie Robinson: Mm-hmm.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: It’s like, and, and even being, it’s stuck in between two worlds. It’s like know who I am as a gay person, but then where do I fit in?

Eddie Robinson: Mm-hmm.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And who can you trust?

Eddie Robinson: Yes.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Who can you trust with your secret? Who’s gonna, who’s, who’s going to turn on you or not be safe because they’re not LGBTQ affirming. You know, I, I, I still go through it even every day, like as a. Lesbian woman is, are my neighbors going to be okay with me being gay?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: You know, I’m in Los Angeles so I don’t deal with it as much anymore now that I’m back in on, in, on the west coast, but

Eddie Robinson: Okay.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: You know, I think for any gay person who is told, or anybody who was told, you can’t be authentic and you have to hide a part of yourself away. And then when you do share with somebody, you get hurt by it.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: You just start building walls. And walls. That’s right. And walls. So again, the, the film hopes to lead people to bigger conversations so that we’re not throwing social constructs on people at a young age. People can just be kids and live their lives and grow up without, you must be masculine or you must be this kind of way in order to be okay.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Then I think we can start seeing bigger change. In the meantime, yes, we had these unfortunate examples of people who have been stung by it, and we’re just grateful that we have an opportunity to talk with one another about it, and people are willing to share. There are more people outside the 1946 team that are contacting all of us all the time and sharing their stories with us, and it’s so encouraging to see the community grow.

Eddie Robinson: There’s a school of thought where people subscribe to homosexuality being wrong, and there are those who support the gay movement. And your film towards the end does a very cool job of getting to achieve that balance. I think it sort of resembles the relationship that you have with your own father. At the end of the day, we can disagree and let’s go out to dinner.

Eddie Robinson: Um, but will there ever be a moment in time where these two worlds of thought can indeed coexist That, that there. More equitable reflections of that in media, in film, in television, the images we see the portrayals of gay people, accurate portrayals, you know, that, that, that, that we experience on a regular basis that we could see that, you know, why can’t there be more attempts to find some form of balance in our society?

Eddie Robinson: Do you think we’ll ever get there?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: The only way that we will get there is separation of church and state. Once the church gets out of policy and politics that hinder people from living their lives, because if they don’t believe in gay marriage, guess what? They don’t have to get gay married. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have the right to get married.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: And so once we can really have separation of church and state, I think that we can really get to a different reality.

Eddie Robinson: Of all that you’ve accomplished. What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned about yourself thus far?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: I have learned to be a better listener, and I’m still learning every day. I need to practice that more, but.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: It was really important for me in making this film to listen to the other side and as painful as it was to sit through the Dr. Michael Brown conferences and the Dr. Robert Gagner in conferences and James White. Good god, it’s painful, but I did it and I am paying attention. But beyond just the scholars, the community, and our loved ones who are our oppress.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: Really listening so that I can have an informed decision and an informed conversation, but also then that provides me an opportunity to be a little bit calmer and not get so excited as I’m running up against walls and the dogma and data all the time. How do I not be so reactive? How do I take a second to pause?

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: How do I process this? I say what I’m, I’m feeling that’s been a big lesson for me cuz that was always a hard thing for me. So hopefully I can continue to mature in that way.

Eddie Robinson: Sharon “Rocky” Roggio. Thank you so much for being a guest on I SEE U.

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio: It was so fun. Thank you for having me.

Eddie Robinson: Our team includes technical director, Todd Hulslander, producer Laurel Walker, editors Mark De Claudio, and Jonmitchell Goode. I SEE U is a production of Houston Public Media. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter and subscribe to our podcast wherever you listen and download your favorite shows.

Eddie Robinson: I’m your host and executive producer, Eddie Robinson, and I feel you. We hear you. I SEE U.

Eddie Robinson: Thanks so much for listening. Until next time.


This article is part of the podcast I SEE U with Eddie Robinson

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