Let’s set the Way-Back Machine for 1874, to the research lab of C.F. Bennett in Chicago, as he was inventing the first jockey, or jock, strap. C.F. was deeply concerned about the comfort and health of young bike messengers as they traveled over cobblestone streets. Mr. Bennett was very always thinking about the genital comfort of the bike jockeys. We picture hours of sessions with young volunteers as Bennett wrapped and tucked straps and cups about the lads' nether regions, testing for support, pliancy, and protection.
Did it ever cross C.F. Bennett’s mind that he was creating the most sexualized piece of clothing invented for men since the loincloth?
Since 1874 the jockstrap has come to be associated with sports, athletes, and go-go boys. Can you still recall the electrifying sensation of the bareness of your behind when you first tried one on for high school gym class?
We are grateful to David Gray at YogaBear Studio for sharing his collection of straps with us, fully packed with his community of amazing models. Below, a statement from David:
“In the gay community, as well as the wider community, we are bombarded with imagery that promotes a specific ideal of physical beauty. Of course, this is nothing new — for centuries, this idealized physique has been the central subject and inspiration for artists. Perhaps the difference is that this imagery is more pervasive today, and we are faced with a never-ending stream of opportunities to compare and judge ourselves relative to this mainstream ideal. In my work, I am attempting to broaden and comment on this flood of imagery, using traditional techniques of portrait and nude photography to explore the role of societal expectations in our personal body image.
“In my own lifetime, the gay community has also shown a steady progress of mainstreaming. Much has been gained in this journey, and today, we as gay people enjoy unprecedented freedom and equality. Something has also been lost, however, and the feeling of being part of a unique community is slowly diminishing. Much of my work is infused with a nostalgia for these disappearing subcultures and the playful imagery that went with them."