One of the most recent additions to our ever-growing collection of LGBT-focused materials at UCI Special Collections and Archives is the Robert Gentry papers (MS-R167). This collection includes the political and professional records of Robert F. Gentry, the first openly gay elected official in Southern California and the first openly gay mayor in the state of California. Gentry served as city councilman and mayor of the city of Laguna Beach from 1982 to 1994, and also had an important leading role here at UC Irvine as the Associate Dean of Students.
Gentry’s papers show his unwavering commitment and advocacy for gay rights, as well as his involvement in protecting the environment and local neighborhoods. During his time as mayor, he led efforts in Laguna Beach to enact legislation giving same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples, and fought to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in seeking jobs and housing.
This collection includes correspondence, including hate mail as well as letters of support, sent to Gentry during his time as a public official. Also included are Laguna Beach City Council documents, campaign brochures, numerous awards, speech transcripts and notes, and newspaper clippings. Much of Gentry’s papers were destroyed in the Laguna Beach fire of 1993, but the contents of this collection provide evidence of Gentry’s commitment to gay rights and the environment, and provide important insight into the political and professional life of Southern California’s first openly gay elected official.
This collection is open for research, and the finding aid is located at the Online Archive of California. For more information about our collections and our reading room hours, please visit our website.
Robert Gentry papers. MS-R167. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.