Bob Barzan


Robert Barzan, thinker, writer, publisher, activist, and founder of White Crane Press and White Crane Newsletter, the first journal devoted exclusively to exploring gay men's spirituality, was born in 1952 in Ontario, Canada, and moved with his family to San Francisco in 1956.

His passion for social justice and interest in Catholic liberation theology inspired him to join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in 1975 and the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1976. He completed his philosophy studies and a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, and a Master of Divinity degree at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California. He was ordained a priest in 1985. He was the first openly gay priest in Missoula, Montana, and was active in the Missoula AIDS Taskforce. Tension between Catholic teaching on homosexuality and his own sexuality and beliefs led him to leave the priesthood and Christianity in 1987.

In San Francisco, in 1989, he started White Crane Newsletter and continued as its publisher until late 1996 when Toby Johnson became publisher. To expand on his thinking and writings, Barzan hosted numerous events, salons, support groups, and discussion groups at his San Francisco apartment. Between 1992 and 2000, hundreds of gay men participated in these events. Barzan encouraged them to think about and share with each other what was most important in their lives. Many then wrote for the newsletter. White Crane Press published books and pamphlets on a variety of gay spirituality and philosophy topics including Critique of Patriarchal Reason by gay activist Arthur Evans. 

In late 2000, he moved to Modesto, California. In 2005, Barzan co-founded and until 2013, was the executive director of the Modesto Art Museum (http://modestoartmuseum.org). He is one of the founders of the Modesto Gay/Lesbian Film Festival and has organized numerous other festivals including the Modesto Food Film Festival and the Modesto Architecture Festival. In 2011, he was made an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects, Sierra Valley Chapter. In 2021, he began splitting his time between Modesto and Palm Springs. 

Barzan current thinking, research, and writing are about phenomenology, social and aesthetic justice, personal and communal well-being, pleasure, and the Italian tradition of la dolce vita or what he calls the “pleasure patio lifestyle. His writings have appeared in numerous books, pamphlets, journals, magazines, web sites, and newspapers.

Barzan can also be found online at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/bob-barzan/18/638/44a

(This biographical statement provided by Bob Barzan.)

Biography Date: June, 2004; rev July 2021

Additional Resources


Catholic (Roman) | Author/editor | California | San Francisco


“Bob Barzan | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed July 21, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/bob-barzan.


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