Finland Postage Stamps To Feature Erotic Gay Images By Artist Tom Of Finland

Finland, a European country where gay marriage is not yet legal, will become the first country to issue postage stamps featuring strong gay imagery on its postage stamps, when the country commemorates one of its best-known 20th-century artists with a sheet of three postage stamps later this year.

The stamps commemorate the artwork of gay Finland artist Touko Laaksone, widely known by his pseudonym, Tom of Finland, and feature images of what the Finland postal service calls the “strong and confident male figures” that turned up throughout the work of Tom of Finland.

But the images on the stamps, while conveying what the postal service calls the “confident and proud homoeroticism” present in all Tom of Finland drawings, are far less explicit than most of the artist’s work, which frequently depicted nude men with oversized penises in states of high sexual arousal.

According to the Los Angeles-based Tom of Finland Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving and promoting the gay art of Tom of Finland as well as other erotic art, the artist’s creative process would typically consist of “locking himself in his room, stripping naked, and stroking himself with one hand while the other hand created on paper what he could seldom find on the streets.”

But Tom of Finland, who died in Helsinki in 1991 at age 71, is credited with far more than simply creating a portfolio of sexually explicit, homoerotic drawings. The mustached, fetishized “look” he created for his characters influenced generations of gay men, including such iconic gay celebrities as Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and the gay 1970s disco ensemble The Village People.

Other countries have issued stamps commemorating heroes of gay culture and of the gay rights movement. Next month the United States Postal Service will issue a stamp depicting gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk, the San Francisco activist and Board of Supervisors member who was tragically assassinated by a fellow San Francisco Supervisor in 1978.

In 2012, Britain’s Royal Mail honored World War II mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turing with a stamp.

But the Tom of Finland stamps are believed to be the first time a country’s stamp has featured openly homoerotic artwork — or any kind of erotic artwork.

“It tends to be nude paintings reproduced on stamps, but as far as actual erotic art is concerned, I think this is the first time,” said Dean Shephard, editor of Gibbons Stamp Monthly.

The Tom of Finland stamps are scheduled to be issued in September.

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