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In 1970, Al Brightman, a heavy equipment dealer and supplier, founded the Leather Stallion Saloon in Cleveland, Ohio, as a recreational sideline to unite gay motorcyclist and give them a place to meet outside the straight biker scene. The outdoor area behind the bar, now the patio bar, was the area where patrons could park their cycles, protected by the wall and gate -- once part of a carriage house -- that leads to the alley behind the bar. As interest grew in the bar, Al, an avid motorcyclist, proposed that a motorcycle club be organized.
The Unicorn Motorcycle Club was officially founded on November 20, 1971, by seven men: William Hover, William Mehall, Richard Protin, Ralph McGraw, Al Brightman, Rick Howard, and Robert Molnar: our charter members.
They adopted a statement of purpose that " The Unicorn MC is a club for gay men in Northeastern Ohio who own, ride, or have an interest in motorcycles. It welcomes inquiries of membership from like men who wish to contribute to the well-being of both the club and the gay community."
Ralph McGraw was elected the first president. The Unicorns immediately became active in the development of the leather community of Cleveland and Northeastern Ohio. They joined eight other clubs to form the Mid America Conference of Clubs on April 28, 1973, in Chicago.
Since our founding, The Unicorns have maintained the social and philosophical goals set by our founders. Social events included brunches, spaghetti dinners, Hot Dog Construction Nights (wear your work boots, torn Levis and hard hat!), steak roasts, long john bar nights, and cheese and wine parties, as well as impromptu bike trips and attending events of other clubs.
Each year the club hosts a number of fund-raising activities, the proceeds from which are donated to various local services and agencies that administer to the gay community, or work to lessen the impact of AIDS on the community.
A tradition with the Unicorns, since its founding, has been the Great Unicorn Steak Roast. During the first few years, the roast was held as an in-town run at the Leather Stallion Saloon. The "one day, all day" event included lunch, an afternoon bike trip with various selected entertaining stops (no alcohol involved), a cocktail party back at the bar, and, or course, the Steak Roast where participants could choose their meat, then grill it to their liking.
The Steak Roast became part of the annual Rites of the Full Moon run, an outdoor weekend camping run that was first held in May, 1973, at Camp Hiram, A secular campground with cabins. In 1975, a larger location was found near Warren, Ohio. It provided a location fro what has been a very popular run with lots of activities and outstanding quality meals.
In 2007,the painful decision was made to discontinue the run at the Warren site because of continuing erratic July weather, frequent flooding at the site and the increasing complications of conducting an outdoor run. In 2008, the run was resumed at a new site west of Cleveland that offered greatly improved camping facilities. (No more outhouses!)
The run continued for four more years, through our 40<sup>th</sup> anniversary year in 2011, then again was put on hiatus due to rising costs and dropping attendance. It was officially voted in 2015 to permanently discontinue the run; however, the Great Unicorn Steak Roast has continued as an annual tradition.
Over the past 45 years, the member of the Unicorn MC have been afforded the privilege to associate with numerous other clubs, both in Ohio and across the country and Canada. Although some of these clubs are no longer in existence, the bonds of brotherhood and friendship that we were blessed with will remain forever.
Ownership of the Leather Stallion Saloon was passed on to Brian Molnar and Norm Hines in 1984 when Al Brightman retired to Port Charlotte, Florida. Al died on May 3, 1996, a loss felt by the leather community all across the United States. The ownership changed hands once again in 2014 when Ken Meyers purchased the bar.
Social networking and increased public acceptance have resulted in a decline in the traditional gay oriented bar and organizations as they existed 45 years ago. Ken has shown great foresight to incorporate changes in the operation of our bar, which are working to spur new interest while holding on to the ideals for a leather bar that were set by Al Brightman.
The Unicorn MC is privileged to be able to boast that we still call the Leather Stallion Saloon our home bar after 45 years, and that we continue to carry out the goals set down by Al Brightman and our founders. --J.H.--