Director Rocky traces the researchers who discovered the unbelievable origins of the anti-gay movement in the Church


Could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your experience so far as an LGBTQIA+ filmmaker? 

My name is Sharon Roggio but my friends call me Rocky. It’s a South Philly Italian nickname. I am one of four daughters with a pastor father and we grew up in a very fundamentalist conservative household in South Jersey. My father always wanted a boy and he was going to call him Rocky. Being a lesbian woman I am the closest to a boy he ever got so I adopted the nickname for myself as a reminder of my strength and courage to live authentically. Plus, it’s a nice reminder for my dad which puts a smile on my face.

I always wanted to be a storyteller and to have a career in the film industry. I love getting a new script and playing a part in seeing the pages come to life on the screen. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would ever make a documentary, let alone about The Bible and to have the opportunity to direct and produce my own feature film.  I’ve always been an out LGBTQIA+ filmmaker and I have worked on major motion pictures and television shows with high-profile talent and professional crews. Being a lesbian has never really been an issue in those environments. 

But once I learned that the word homosexual first appeared in the Bible in 1946 and that it was a mistranslation I felt compelled to tell this story. As a lesbian person who is a product of religious trauma I know how important this message is and it would have been irresponsible of me not to make this film. I believe it can change our reality and culture moving forward for the LGBTQIA+ plus. This film is my directorial debut and I am extremely proud of not only how far I’ve come as an individual and the things that I have learned but the people that we have already reached through our social media outreach and our community outreach. We are creating change, sharing hope and saving lives. It is the greatest privilege of my life to be able to tell this story and I can’t wait to see the ripple effect it will have in the world. 

Sharon “Rocky” Roggio

What are three adjectives that capture your film’s spirit? 

Eye-opening, transformative, hopeful 

What inspired you to submit your film to BFI Flare and what does it mean to you? 

The British film Institute is one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. Having an opportunity to submit and then to be accepted is a dream come true. After we won the audience award at our World Premiere at DOC NYC in New York City, BFI Flare reached out and invited us to submit our film for this year‘s 2023 BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival. We were already planning on submitting so you can imagine my excitement when we were invited. That speaks volumes not only for the demand of the film but the quality of the work. Thank you BFI for reaching out and thank you so much for accepting us at this year‘s 2023 BFI FLARE as we celebrate our International / UK / London Premiere of our film with you.  

Why do you think onscreen representation at BFI Flare is valuable for LGBTQIA+ audiences and allies? 

Onscreen representation is important for people to understand that they are not alone. Being represented in media affords us that opportunity. Media played an important role in my coming out process and I share this experience in the first five minutes of our film, 1946. I was about five years old when I first saw a lesbian couple featured on a news program on TV. I immediately identified with them. This was in the early 1980s when there was very little to no representation about our community, at least no positive media. That news program opened my eyes to who I truly was and gave me the opportunity to define it years later as a teenager. It allowed me to walk through my sexual orientation a little easier.  Now as an LGBTQIA+ filmmaker I am so honoured to play a role in sharing our stories through the power of media.  

Part of BFI Flare is the #FiveFilmsForFreedom initiative – five films are streamed for free for audiences globally. It invites everyone everywhere to show solidarity with LGBTQIA+ communities in countries where freedom and equal rights are limited. Why do you think this is important?

 Not only is this important, this is wonderful! The urgency of sharing our stories cannot be overstated. We’re talking about human dignity here and if religious leaders can use sacred writing to undermine that dignity, we can return to the same and restore it because often times the source of the poison is where you find the cure. 

Could you tell us a bit about your film and the themes it explores?  

1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture sheds light on the senseless negative impact a simple mistranslation has had on society, specifically the LGBTQIA+ community. The documentary’s goal is to spread understanding, compassion and hope around what can be a divisive and painful issue. As organisations and individuals seek greater understanding around diversity, equity, and inclusion, the film’s research and discoveries are paramount in answering the question: where did this even begin? 

The film follows the story of tireless researchers who trace the origins of the anti-gay movement among Christians to a grave mistranslation of the Bible in 1946. It chronicles the discovery of never-before-seen archives at Yale University which unveil astonishing new revelations, and casts significant doubt on any biblical basis for LGBTQIA+ prejudice. Featuring commentary from prominent scholars as well as opposing pastors, including the personal stories of the film’s creators, 1946 is at once challenging, enlightening, and inspiring.  

If you had to choose one film that inspired this feature, what would it be? 

For the Bible Tells Me So directed by Daniel Karslake who happens to be my mentor and the executive producer of 1946. I first watched Daniel’s film many years ago and it has always been instrumental in my own life being LGBTQIA+ and growing up Christian. His film was the first of its kind on a mainstream platform to address the struggles between an LGBTQIA+ person and the discrimination we receive from the church and our own families. It was about six months into the process of making 1946 when our first donors introduced me to Daniel. We all discussed him coming aboard to mentor me and guide me during the production of this film. That was one of those pinch moments as it felt too good to be true now having one of my film heroes who created one of the most important and a very influential films mentor me. I will be forever grateful to Dan for all of his guidance and patience with me as a first time film director.  

What do you hope LGBTQIA+ audiences take away from the film? 

There’s this low level anxiety running through the bones and marrow of our cities and our towns across nations and around the globe. The tension is palpable and is only made worse in minority groups who exist on the fringes of society. 

We want our people to take a deep breath, take a moment to relax in the knowledge that God loves us as we are, that our worth is inherent in our humanness, and that this thing we call The Bible is so much more bountiful, in culture, and nuance, and history, and language, than any gatekeeper can keep contained for very long. We were made for moments, for movements such as this and so were you. 

What is your favourite LGBTQIA+ film of all time? 

Bound directed by Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski. This is a classic lesbian film. It’s brilliant, sexy, suspenseful and well-crafted.

Finally, what do you think are the next steps for LGBTQIA+ representation in the film industry?

As an LGBTQIA+ person, it is so frustrated to feel that we constantly either have to “come out” over and over again and/or that we must hide a part of ourselves around some people or places in society.  It would be wonderful to live in a world where we do not have to do this. It’s exhausting. So the next steps for LGBTQIA+ representation in the film industry would be the normalisation of sex and sexuality, sexual orientation or gender identity as a regular part of life so we can simply just tell our stories without all the “coming out.”

1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture screens at BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival on 17 March, 18:15 and 18 March, 15:40 Further details on the website.  

DIVA magazine celebrates 29 years in print in 2023. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQIA media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.