Leather Stallion Saloon

in Bars, Clubs, and Discos

The Leather Stallion Saloon, a gay levi/leather bar, opened at 2205 St. Clair Avenue in 1970. In January 1970, owner Al Brighton opened the Leather Stallion as a private membership club catering to Cleveland’s underground gay levi/leather subculture. The Stallion (also known as the “Leather Feather” and “Plastic Pony” by regulars) quickly gained a reputation as Cleveland’s premier levi/leather establishment. The Leather Stallion contained a “dimly lit” bar and pool room surrounded by dark leather-esq decor. The bar’s interior, lit only by “two red lights,” was adorned with “pictures of well-built men in jeans and cowboy hats, but without shirts,” and a “chain hanging on the wall where patrons would hang their helmets.” Outside, the Leather Stallion featured a private “fenced-in” rear patio with an array of “picnic tables and torchlights.” The Leather Stallion acted as the host bar to a number of gay levi/leather and motorcycle groups in Cleveland, including the Leather Stallions and the Rangers. In addition to hosting events and competitions related to the leather subculture (including the annual Mr. Cleveland Leather competition), the Leather Stallion has served as host to numerous LGBT+ community groups, events, and fundraisers. At first, only gay men wearing levi/leather fashion were allowed to enter the bar. Though restrictions on membership and dress were gradually relaxed over the years, the Leather Stallion remained a men-only club for much of the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1984, Brighton sold the Leather Stallion to Brian Molnar and Norman Hines. During the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Cleveland, Molnar and Hines took an active role in publicizing and promoting “safer sex materials” and information at the Leather Stallion. As the owner of Cleveland’s preeminent leather bar, Molnar recognized that “leather bars [had] always had a reputation for unsafe sex practices,” and thus took an active role in promoting “safer sex campaigns and material” at the Leather Stallion in order to publicly “change that image.” In the mid-1980s, the Leather Stallion played a pioneering role in the Cleveland gay bar scene by distributing safer sex guidelines and information, offering free condoms, and hosting educational talks and demonstrations on “safer sex habits” led national gay health consultant (and Cleveland celebrity) Buck Harris.

Soon after assuming co-ownership of the Leather Stallion, Molnar and Hines also began began to gradually grant women limited access into the bar. Female patrons, however, were still often heavily discouraged by many of the Stallion’s patrons and staff and were generally denied service after 9pm. In 1991, bartender Roger Zucker publicly quit his job at the Leather Stallion in direct protest against the Stallion’s unofficial (yet ongoing) policies and practices of discriminating against female patrons. Zucker subsequently formed Cleveland Unite!, a anti-gender-separatist political community group, as part of a broader effort to end discriminatory policies and practices promoting gender separatism throughout Cleveland’s LGBT+ bars, places, and spaces. Though Molnar denied discriminating against female patrons at the Stallion, Cleveland Unite’s efforts were ultimately successful in bringing an end to official (and unofficial) policies promoting gender-based discrimination at the Leather Stallion in the early 1990s.

In 2014, Molnar and Hines sold the Leather Stallion to owner Ken Myers. The Leather Stallion offers a variety of themed themed nights and parties throughout the week and continues to host community events and continues to host LGBT+ community groups, events, and fundraisers throughout the year. Though the Leather Stallion continues to cater to the gay levi/leather subculture, it now welcomes patrons of all genders and sexual orientations. Open since 1970, the Leather Stallion remains the oldest continually operating gay bar in Cleveland (and the broader Midwest).

Additional information coming soon.


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2205 St Clair Ave NE, Cleveland, OH 44114

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