In Bed With Tom
Picture by: Posti Oy
Lately, Finns have fallen in love with muscular machos wearing peaked caps and leather gear. You can see them everywhere. As you get undressed to wash up in the mornings, a row of men gaze at us from behind shower curtains, with their fronts suggestively bulging. Toweling off is left for the strong-jawed sailor to perform. During Christmas, you can make coffee out of a package where a nude Santa pulls on shiny leather boots, with bulging pectoral muscles.
As a Finn leaves their home, they grab a cloth bag with them, on which pilots with baggy pants and mechanics in tight overalls show off their firm abs. Left on the kitchen hook, of course, is an apron with a well-endowed sailor couple longingly gazing into the distance, with a hand gently resting on the thigh.
Similar, ponderous macho gay men follow us everywhere throughout the day. Over there is a parking disc, on which a shipwrecked, saved sailor floats on a barrel with upright buttocks. Over here, on the other hand, on the cover of a notebook, is a mailman, with his work dungarees squeezing just the right places. At lunch, you can wipe your mouth with a napkin adorned with a muscled man, wearing jean shorts, with his shiny moustache completing the image. On a poster, two naked, boots-wearing men fence with wooden rods. Three men in their underwear are intertwined in a tender embrace.
What is this? Of course, it’s the revolutionary drawings of the late, great advertisement graphic artist, Touko Laaksonen (1920–1991). Laaksonen performed his most significant work, in addition to his work as an advertisement artist under the pseudonym Tom of Finland. Laaksonen’s iconic macho gay characters, illustrated under the name of Tom of Finland are known around the world today. Even if they were only known in gay circles at first, the attractive peaked cap men have now reached a wider audience. It’s even claimed that Tom of Finland is the most well-known Finnish visual artist. If you go and show Tom of Finland’s and Akseli Gallén-Kallela’s works in the streets of San Francisco, for instance, it may very well be that Tom of Finland would be recognised first.
The Tom of Finland movie tells the story of Touko Laaksonen. Movie premiere on February 24, 2017.
Touko Laaksonen has only become more well-known in recent years, under his own name in Finland. The world-famous, but still hidden artist has been the object of a show of posthumous respect. Suomen Posti (The Finnish Postal Service) published a series of stamps in 2014 featuring a nazi uniform-wearing man flaunting another muscular and naked man between his legs drawn by Tom of Finland. Surely, the stamp inspired admiration when it made its appearance, but certainly some more conservative people did a spit-take with their morning cups of coffee. In its premiere on February 24, 2017, a new film provides an insight into Tom of Finland’s silenced life as Touko Laaksonen, following World War II, when homosexuality was still a crime. Laaksonen had to hide his sexuality from his family and drew his utopistic and more open world at night, hidden from others. The film is a part of the 100th year celebration of Finnish independence.
Today Tom of Finland has become a favourite of the people, through which a stand can be made for tolerance. Companies, such as the Design from Finland brand representative Finlayson, have found a charming and enchanting method of communicating values in Tom of Finland. And what could be a nicer way to show support for human value and minority rights than getting into soft sheets in the evening, into a muscular sea of shiny boots, leather jackets, peaked caps and bulging micro-shorts.
Tom of Finland sheets by Finlayson