The Richard Pryor set that shook the gay rights movement in 1977.

The Richard Pryor set that shook the gay rights movement in 1977.

In the early days of the anti-Briggs campaign, a Richard Pryor comedy set turned into a public fiasco and laid bare longstanding divisions in the gay community. With the movement low on cash and running out of time, thousands of gay Californians decided their only option was to tell the world who they really were.


(If you—or anyone you know—are in crisis, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, anytime: Dial 988 or visit

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Season 9 of Slow Burn was written and produced by Christina Cauterucci. Slow Burn is produced by Kelly Jones, Joel Meyer, and Sophie Summergrad.

Josh Levin is the editorial director of Slow Burn.

Derek John is Slate’s executive producer of narrative podcasts.

Susan Matthews is Slate’s executive editor.

Merritt Jacob is our senior technical director. We had engineering help from Patrick Fort and Madeline Ducharme.

Our theme music is composed by Alexis Cuadrado. Artwork by Ivylise Simones, based on an image of Silvana Nova and a poster designed by Larry Hermsen and the Too Much Graphics Collective.

Sources for This Episode:


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Avicoli, Tommi. “Breaking Anita Bryant’s Monopoly On The Lord,” Berkeley Barb, March 3, 1978.

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Cordova, Jeanne. “Hollywood Bowl, A Sexist Bunch,” Lesbian Tide, November/December 1977.

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Gillam, Jerry. “$859,487 Spent to Push Antigay Issue,” Los Angeles Times, July 12,  1978.

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Khalil, Ramy K. “Harvey Milk and California Proposition 6: How the Gay Liberation Movement Won Two Early Victories,” WWU Graduate School Collection, 2012.

Laird, Cynthia. “Lesbian educator Sally Gearhart dies,” Bay Area Reporter, July 14, 2021.

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Saul, Scott. “Richard Pryor: meltdown at the Hollywood Bowl,” the Guardian, Jan. 11, 2015.

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[Briggs on Prop 7], Kevin Burke sound recordings (1999-51), Courtesy of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.


[Avotcja Excerpts], Kevin Burke sound recordings (1999-51), Courtesy of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

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