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How the gay-rights icon fought John Briggs’ gay teacher ban.

How the gay-rights icon fought John Briggs’ gay teacher ban.
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After decades of wandering and job-hopping, Harvey Milk found his purpose as a gay community leader with growing political ambitions. But his historic election was just the beginning. As John Briggs’ gay teacher ban gained momentum, it was up to Supervisor Milk and his allies to figure out how to stop him.

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Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately unlock the first five episodes of Slow Burn: Gays Against Briggs. Your subscription also gets you ad-free access to all your favorite Slate podcasts, plus other member exclusive content. Join now on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Subscribe” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/slowburnplus to get access wherever you listen.

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:

Books

Baum, Dan. Citizen Coors: An American DynastyWilliam Morrow, 2000.

Clendinen, Dudley and Adam Nagourney. Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, Simon & Schuster, 1999.

Faderman, Lillian. Harvey Milk: His Lives and Death, Yale University Press, 2018.

Faderman, Lillian. The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle, Simon & Schuster, 2015.

Fejes, Fred. Gay Rights and Moral Panic: The Origins of America’s Debate on Homosexuality, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Jones, Cleve. When We Rise: My Life in the Movement, Hachette Books, 2016.

Milk, Harvey, eds. Jason Edward Black and Charles E. Morris III. An Archive of Hope: Harvey Milk’s Speeches & Writings, University of California Press, 2013.

Shilts, Randy. The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, St. Martin’s Press, 1982.

The Gay Rights Writer’s Group, It Could Happen to You…An Account of the Gay Civil Rights Campaign in Eugene, Oregon, Alyson Publications, 1983.

Articles 

Ammiano, Tom. “Out of the Crowd Comes Harvey Milk,” San Francisco Bay Times, May 20, 2020.

Bajko, Matthew S. “Naval records indicate SF library’s Milk discharge paperwork a fake,” Bay Area Reporter, Feb. 12,
2020.

“Briggs calls our town a moral garbage dump,” San Francisco Examiner, May 1, 1978.

Bryan, John. “‘You Can Throw Bricks at City Hall or You Can Take it Over’,” Berkeley Barb, Jan. 27, 1978.

Caen, Herb. “Dog Daze in Frisco,” New York Times, March 8, 1978.

“California vote sought on homosexual issue,” Associated Press, May 2, 1978.

“Decade of Gay Rights at Issue When California Goes to Polls,” Associated Press, Oct. 26, 1978.

Emery, Vince. “The unknown adventures of Harvey Milk in Dallas,” Dallas Voice, May 17, 2012.

“Eugene voters repeal gay-rights ordinance,” Associated Press, May 24, 1978.

Fitzgerald, Frances. “The Castro—I,” the New Yorker, July 21, 1986.

Gay rights,” the Spokeswoman, June 15, 1978.

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Gold, Herbert. “A Walk on San Francisco’s Gay Side,” New York Times, Nov. 6, 1977.

Hollands, Josh. “How a battle for union rights at Coors pushed back homophobia,” Socialist Worker, Feb. 4, 2014.

Hollis, Robert and Annie Nakao. “Prop T. changes shape of S.F. politics,” San Francisco Examiner, Nov. 3, 1976.

“Homosexual Initiative Delayed by Typing Error,” Associated Press, Nov. 2, 1977.

Homosexual on Board Cites Role as Pioneer,” Associated Press, Nov. 9, 1978.

Iati, Marisa. “The Navy made Harvey Milk resign for being gay. Now they’re building a ship named after him,”
Washington Post, Dec. 15, 2019.

Johanesen, Harry. “Gay activist will run for Assembly Seat,” San Francisco Examiner, Feb. 7, 1976.

Johnston, David. “One Gay Candidate Runs to Win…,” Berkeley Barb, Oct. 24, 1975.

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

Mendenhall, George. “Harvey Milk vs. The Machine,” Bay Area Reporter, Feb. 19, 1976.

Mendenhall, George. “The Coors Empire & Gay Rights,” Bay Area Reporter, Sept. 29, 1977.

“Milk entered politics because ‘I knew I had to become involved’,” San Francisco Examiner, Nov. 28, 1978.

Milk, Harvey. “Teamsters Seek Gay Help,” Bay Area Reporter, Nov. 27, 1974.

Pogash, Carol. “The night neighborhoods came to City Hall,” San Francisco Examiner, Nov. 9, 1977.

Strand, Robert. “San Francisco Gay Community Carries Political Clout,” United Press International, Nov. 30, 1977.

Teamsters Celebrate PRIDE: A Look Back at the Coors Boycott & Strike of the 1970’s, Teamsters 856, June 29, 2023.

Tracey, Liz. “Proposition 6 (The Briggs Initiative): Annotated,” JSTOR, Oct. 28, 2022.

Turner, Wallace. “Vote on Homosexual Rights Bill Overshadows Other Oregon Races,” New York Times, May 23, 1978.

Turner, Wallace. “Voters in Eugene, Ore., Repeal Ordinance on Homosexual Rights,” New York Times, May 24, 1978.

“Voters Reject Homosexual Rights, but Why?,” Dispatch, May 29, 1978.

Audiovisual

Epstein, Rob. The Times of Harvey Milk, 1984.

[Briggs – S.F. City Hall Filing Petitions], Kevin Burke sound recordings (1999-51), Courtesy of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

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

[SF St. Paul Demo 4/25/78], Kevin Burke sound recordings (1999-51), Courtesy of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

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

[The Gay Life – December 8, 1978 – Randy Alfred, host], Randy Alfred subject files and sound recordings (1991-24), Courtesy of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

[1976 Castro Street Fair Original Tape 1], Daniel A. Smith and Queer Blue Light videotapes, (1999-52), Courtesy of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

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[Harvey Milk’s “Political Will”], Harvey Milk Archives–Scott Smith Collection (GLC 35), Hormel LGBTQIA Center, San Francisco Public Library.





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