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New exhibition showcases the world’s best vintage gay male erotica

With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Nick Jonas, and any number of aspiring Instagram exhibitionists happily parading around in their underwear, anyone searching for images celebrating the naked male form doesn’t have to look far in 2017.

But that wasn’t always the case.

A new exhibition in London is showcases American and European photographers who created sex-positive homoerotic images in the 50s and 60s for a gay male audience, under the pretense of celebrating bodybuilding as a sport.

Related: Get To Know Bob Mizer, The Physique Photog Behind America’s First Gay Mag

The images, created by studios like Athletic Model Guild or Scott of London, would often land the photographers in jail.

London’s Menier Gallery will present Model Men until August 12. The exhibition is accompanied by a 64-page book that sheds light on how much of the work was destroyed by authorities; an experience so traumatizing many of the photographers still refuse to talk about it.

Here’s some of the work featured in the exhibition: