Header Image

Robert Gentry Papers Enhance LGBT Archive

Former three-term Mayor of Laguna Beach and activist Robert F. Gentry has donated his political and professional papers to the Libraries’ LGBT Archive enhancing the growing set of materials documenting LGBT history in Orange County.

“I am very pleased to make this donation to the UC Irvine Libraries and support their efforts to document the challenges experienced by the LGBT community in Orange County,” said Gentry. “It is important that future generations understand the struggles and sacrifices experienced by those before them to achieve greater acceptance and equal rights.”

The collection contains the political and professional papers of Gentry, the first openly gay elected official in southern California and first openly gay mayor in the state of California.  Gentry served as both mayor and city councilmember in the city of Laguna Beach, California, from 1982 to 1994, and also served as Associate Dean of Students at UC 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.

While a considerable amount of Gentry’s materials were destroyed in the Laguna Beach fire of 1993, this collection provides strong evidence of his role as an advocate for gay rights, environmental protection, and neighborhood preservation.  He led the city's effort to pass a domestic partnership ordinance granting gay and lesbian couples some of the same rights enjoyed by heterosexual married couples and a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Gentry and his spouse Dennis Amick Gentry benefitted from these efforts as they were the first registered domestic partners in Laguna Beach in 1992; subsequently, they legally married in California in 2008. 

"Special Collections and Archives is proud to preserve and make available the papers of Bob Gentry, one of Orange County's most influential political leaders and successful Associate Dean of Students at UC Irvine,” said Audra Eagle Yun, Acting Head of Special Collections and Archives. “The Gentry papers are an excellent addition to our collections, and the papers reinforce the Libraries' commitment to documenting and preserving Orange County's LGBT history."

The Gentry Papers add to the growing collection of materials in the Archive. Another recent gift of materials is the records of the Elections Committee of the County of Orange (ECCO), an all-volunteer political action committee that works on behalf of civil rights, mainly those of women and the LGBT community.

By preserving the voices of LGBT communities in their own words, we ensure that future generations have access to a diverse historical record. For further information about the LGBT Archive and donating materials, please contact Audra Eagle Yun, Head of Special Collections and Archives, at 949.824.2663 or aeyun@uci.edu.

For information about enhancing the LGBT Archive with financial support or advocacy, please contact Julie Sully, Interim Director of Development, at 949.824.4658 or jsully@uci.edu. To make a tax-deductible donation please go to: http://www.uadv.uci.edu/LGBTarchive.

Image 1
Robert Gentry

Related links:

LGBT Archive Event Raises Awareness 

LGBT History in the O.C.

Donors Preserve History of Gay Community in O.C.

Orange County Historical LGBT Historical Timeline

LGBT Archive Brochure