Cleveland Leather Annual Weekend

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The Cleveland Leather Annual Weekend (CLAW), an annual three-day-long “leather/BDSM/fetish event” and “conference for gay men,” has been held in Cleveland since 2002. CLAW Corporation, the organizer of CLAW, is a a 501c3 nonprofit charity organization dedicated to “fundraising, education, and other charitable needs of the leather community. CLAW was envisioned by its founders, Dennis McMahon and and Bob Miller, as a weekend of fundraising events that would “bring together the leather community” while “[raising] funds” for LGBT+ and leather-related organizations. CLAW, noted McMahon, “is one of the few events where the leather community can get together and socialize without a competition. Usually when we get together, it’s to compete.” CLAW, however, has developed into one of the largest leather community events nationwide without a leather contest or competition. Despite the absence of a leather competition, CLAW weekends feature a three-day-long schedule of “events “kink-filled parties, friendship, workshops, and events” geared towards LGBT+, leather, BDSM, and kink community members that have attracted thousands of visitors national and international visitors to Cleveland each year. Community, education, and entertainment are all key components of CLAW, with activities ranging from guest panels, presentations, educational and/or instructional forums, workshops, community banquets, bar crawls, themed parties, live entertainment to raffles, auctions, and a vendor’s market available throughout the event weekend. Since 2002, CLAW and affiliated CLAW Nation events have raised nearly one million dollars for local and national LGBT+ and leather organizations and causes.

The first Cleveland Leather Annual Weekend (CLAW 1), held between January 25-27th, 2002, began as a bar crawl and “leather theme night” that kicked off at the Toolshed bar. The following year, CLAW 2 was held at the Days Inn hotel in Lakewood. Annual attendance at CLAW has soared year after year, and subsequent CLAW weekends have been held at various hotels and hotel convention centers throughout the greater Cleveland area. CLAW 1-12 (2002-2013) were held in hotels in downtown Cleveland. In 2014, CLAW’s organizers changed the event’s numbering system so that the event’s number would match the year it was held thereafter. CLAW 14 (2014) moved to out of downtown and into suburban Cleveland, with CLAW 15-16 (2015-2016) events held in Independence, Ohio. The event moved back into downtown Cleveland for CLAW 17-19 (2017-2019. Though CLAW 20 was originally planned to take place in Cleveland, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced CLAW’s organizers to cancel the in-person event. (Instead, CLAW 20 was held as a Zoom-based virtual event.) Due to ongoing “pandemic-related issues,” CLAW 21 (2021) was temporarily held in downtown Los Angeles. The event moved back to Cleveland for CLAW 22 (2022) and has remained in downtown Cleveland since.

Additional information coming soon.


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  • Glassman, Anthony. “CLAW Declares in Independence.” Gay People’s Chronicle. May 29, 2015.
  • Glassman, Anthony. “Clawing its Way to the Top.” Gay People’s Chronicle. May 5, 2006. Page 1, 10.
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  • Glassman, Anthony, and Brian DeWitt. “CLAW’s Weekend of Fun Continues to Grow.” Gay People’s Chronicle. May 4, 2012.
  • Glassman, Anthony. “Leatherfolk Have A Ball at the Eighth CLAW Gathering.” Gay People’s Chronicle. May 8, 2009. Pages 1, 4.
  • Glassman, Anthony. “Second Year of CLAW Brings In Three Times the Money.” Gay People’s Chronicle. January 31, 2003. Pages 1, 5.
  • Glassman, Anthony. “Leather Titleists Turn Out for First CLAW Weekend.” Gay People’s Chronicle. February 1, 2002. Pages 1, 4.
  • Glassman, Anthony. “Pretty in Leather.” Gay People’s Chronicle. May 13, 2005. Page 1.
  • Glassman, Anthony. “Swimming Pool and Speed Dating Enhance CLAW 14.” Gay People’s Chronicle. May 2, 2014.
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  • Glassman, Anthony. “Twelfth CLAW is a Fun Weekend for All.” Gay People’s Chronicle. May 3, 2013.
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  • Heney, Paul J. “Cleveland’s Leather Paradise CLAW Returns.” OutTraveler. May 26, 2022.
  • Heney, Paul J. “Photos: Best NSFW Looks From Cleveland Leather Annual Weekend.” GayCities. October 2, 2023.
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  • Lenius, Steve. “Leather Life: CLAW 21 Coming in November 2021.” Lavender Magazine. April 8, 2021.
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  • McMahon, Dennis. “There’s No Contest: CLAW is a Fun Weekend in Leather.” Gay People’s Chronicle. April 16, 2004. Page 6.
  • Miller, Bob. “Fourth CLAW Leather Weekend is Big Draw.” Gay People’s Chronicle. April 22, 2005. Page 6.
  • “Previous CLAW Yearbooks.” CLAW.
  • Rhodes, Dave. “CLAW 2023 Rocks Cleveland.” The Leather Journal. April 23, 2023.
  • Rhodes, Dave. “Conversations with Leather: Bob Miller.” The Leather Journal. April 29, 2021.
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  • Schneck, Ken. LGBTQ Cleveland. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2018. Page 23.
  • Street, Mikelle. “Inside Cleveland Leather Annual Weekend: An Educational Fetish Gathering for the #MeToo Era.” LogoTV. May 3, 2018.
  • “Tom Stebel Interview, 01 August 2023.” Cleveland Voices.
2909 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH 44113

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