This collection comprises the political and professional papers of Robert F. Gentry, the first openly gay elected official
in southern California and first openly gay mayor in the state of California. Gentry served as mayor and a city councilmember
in the city of Laguna Beach, California, serving from 1982 to 1994, and also served as Associate Dean of Students at the University
of California, Irvine. Materials include correspondence and hate mail, awards, and clippings by and about Gentry as well as
the AIDS-related death of his longtime partner Gary Burdick.
Robert F. Gentry was born in 1938 in Massachusetts. In the 1970s he moved to California, and in 1982 he was elected the mayor
of Laguna Beach, becoming the first openly gay elected official in southern California and first openly gay mayor in the state
of California. Gentry served as mayor and a city councilmember in Laguna Beach, serving the local community from 1982 to 1994.
He was also Associate Dean of Students at the University of California, Irvine. During his time as mayor, he spearheaded efforts
to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, and to allow same-sex couples the rights of married heterosexual couples.
Gentry led the city's effort to pass a domestic partnership ordinance granting gay and lesbian couples some of the same rights
as heterosexual married couples and a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Gentry and his spouse Dennis
Amick Gentry benefited from these efforts as they were the first registered domestic partners in Laguna Beach in 1992; subsequently,
they legally married in California in 2008. Gentry was also involved in many environmental projects around the Laguna Beach
0.8 Linear feet
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of Special Collections and Archives.