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Tom of Finland: The Darkroom
Homoerotic artist Tom of Finland gets the official stamp of approval
When it comes to sex and social media, the line between appropriate and potentially offensive has been murky, inconsistent and, more and more often, seemingly discriminatory. Which brings us to Tom of Finland. The foundation was started in by Touko Laaksonen, better known by his pseudonym Tom of Finland, an erotic illustrator from Helsinki originally from Kaarina, Finland. ToF has been active on social media since its beginnings, and its content has not changed, but last month the foundation saw its account banned from Instagram. It was reactivated within 18 hours after public outcry, but there remains a lack of clarity about why it happened to begin with. Breastfeeding and mastectomy shots have been allowed — which is progress — but the sexism inherent in allowing shirtless male images versus female is still present. Laaksonen never went to art school, instead moving to Helsinki when he was 19 to start a career in advertising. And because he rendered leather so well and he captured it so well in drawings, I think his work became iconically associated with [its] beginnings. Laaksonen viewed his homosexuality as a non-issue, and wanted to normalize it for everyone else in his community at a time when being gay was literally a crime. And of course, everything about them is big and unapologetically bold, including their genitals.
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His subversive drawings ridiculed authority figures and inspired the look of Freddie Mercury and the Village People. Tue 1 Aug W hile sex between men was partially decriminalised 50 years ago in the UK, in Finland it took until Almost years after his birth in the town of Kaarina, Tom of Finland had come home. By day, he was a senior art director at advertising agency McCann Erickson. In his spare time, however, Laaksonen drew his sexual fantasies — bikers and lumberjacks, mounties and policemen going at it hammer and tongs in forests, prisons and parks, the smiles on their faces almost as big as their enormously tumescent penises.
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