Happy Birthday Tom


Submitted by Nigel Whitfield, Director, BLUF Ltd, 08 May 2020



On 8th May, 1920, Touko Laaksonen was born. In many countries, homosexuality was frowned upon. In his native Finland, as in so many others places, gay men faced violence and intimidation from the police, often having to live double lives.

One hundred years later, the world is a very different place, but the drawings that Tom created endure, with their stylised portrayals of masculinity - often inspired by his experiences in the war - still an inspiration of many gay men.

Once considered an underground artist, Tom now features in mainstream newspaper columns, a biopic and his images can be found on a huge range of licensed products.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable of all is the 2014 release by the Finnish Post Office of a set of stamps celebrating Tom. What clearer sign can there be of an artist finally embraced by his country?

From outcast to icon; from ad man to erotic inspiration; Tom of Finland has had a lasting effect on many gay men, on their behaviour, fantasies and dreams. It wouldn't be too far off the mark to say that BLUF itself is part of his legacy. His images of Leathermen inspire and inform many of our members.

Tom passed away in 1991. Through the Tom of Finland Foundation, his art - and that of other queer artists - is preserved and promoted; we encourage you to consider making a donation to them.

On what would have been his 100th birthday, we say Thank you, Tom, for all you made possible.