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White Crane's History

For over 25 years White Crane has existed as a forum for exploring Gay Culture and Wisdom.

White Crane (originally White Crane Newsletter) was created by Robert Barzan in the Summer of 1989. Barzan chose the name White Crane because in the ancient traditions of China and Japan, the white crane is a symbol of happiness and wholeness. Suggesting high-flying aspiration and convention-defying independence. It is an appropriate symbol for the Gay spiritual quest. In that first issue Barzan described White Crane's mission:

"The driving force behind this newsletter is my belief that as gay men we have a unique and wonderful spirituality to share with each other. A spirituality that is, in part, due to our gayness but also because we have all experienced oppression of who we are as gay men...This has forced us to drink from our own wells, exploring new ways that lead to our authenticity."

Barzan published White Crane for seven years, growing the newsletter into a journal format with some of the foremost writers in gay spirituality and queer theory contributing almost from the very beginning. He remains Emeritus Founder of White Crane Journal.

Barzan then passed the journal on to Gay writer and novelist Toby Johnson in 1996. At that time he described White Crane's objectives:

1) That it be a forum where we can share with each other what we have found both helpful and not helpful for our spiritual development, and 2) that what is written here be a source of encouragement in our own life journeys. You are encouraged to test everything that is written here, keep what is helpful to you, and lay the rest aside.

During Johnson's tenure the publication expanded to an international readership with subscribers in Europe, South America, Australia and Asia and entered the digital age with the establishment of the White Crane website.
Johnson published White Crane for seven years, writing several books in that time including the 2000 Lammie Award winning Gay Spirituality: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness. Johnson is now publisher emeritus of White Crane Journal after handing over publishing responsibilities to Bo Young who had previously served as Poetry Editor and Associate Editor.

Bo invited former RFD poetry editor and LGBT church advocate Dan Vera to come on-board, and they began the transition to publishing White Crane in the 21st Century.

Having met in Harry Hay's Heart Circle Workshops in the mid-90s, we seek to bring White Crane to new readers hungry for cultural grounding and renewal, and to continue a forum of discussion and sharing in the spirit of the Heart Circles we learned from Harry Hay.

They moved to assure White Crane's fiscal health and continuation by establishing a 501(c)(3) educational corporation, White Crane Institute, and seeking corporate sponsorship to move the magazine into being a source of 'right livelihood' for the writers and artists who have contributed to the magazine and have made it the respected journal that it is today. A twenty-year old publication, White Crane was supported in its entirety by subscribers with virtually no advertising. This is a highly unusual and precious thing in the magazine and publishing world, not to mention the gay community. We think it speaks eloquently to the depth of commitment many gay men feel to their spiritual work and journeys.

In 2003, the Lambda Book Report described the venerable publication as "a literate, intelligent-and, at the same time, provocative and ground-breaking, scholarly quarterly of gay culture."

In 2004, White Crane was the only gay magazine to be nominated for the coveted UTNE Independent Press Award.

Gay men use all kinds of paths and lifestyles to grow spiritually and to enhance their experience of life: meditation, prayer, psychotherapy, service, religion, music, drugs, yoga, breathing, ritual, dream study, dressing up, dressing down, role-playing, relationships, gardening, sex, sex rituals, dancing, and much more--all with varying degrees of success.

Committed to the certainty that gay consciousness plays a special and important role in the evolution of life on Earth, White Crane Institute exists to explore the variety of the manifestations of the spiritual search among contemporary gay men.