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 area.
0.8 Linear Feet
(2 boxes) and 2.4 unprocessed linear feet
Property rights reside with the University of California. For permissions to reproduce or
to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
Processed components of the collection are open for research. Unprocessed additions may
contain restricted materials. Please contact the Department of Special Collections and
Archives in advance to request access.