Black men in Tom’s world

13th September 2021, 3:16 pm


TOM OF FINLAND Untitled, 1990, Pastel on paper, 13.50” x 17.75”, © Tom of Finland Foundation

In Tom’s universe, all men are created equal, and are equal to fuck or be fucked. There is no point in using the term intercourse; Tom would only find it demeaning. His men were basic and unpretentious, following their manly instincts and enjoying every minute of it.

There was a period when Tom’s primary market was Bob Mizer’s magazine, Physique Pictorial. Mizer commissioned work from Tom on a monthly basis, but his drawings of Black men couldn’t be printed in the U.S. at the time, being deemed unacceptable. This didn’t deter Tom, who drew whatever he found desirable. Tom depicted interracial sex and showed men getting plowed by both races. He found this naturally appealing, and put the same amount of detail into his renderings of Black men as he did of White.

Tom’s portrayals of men of color found their market through European publishers. Tourists would purchase them abroad, bring them home to the States, then reproduce them and send copies to friends. It wasn’t that Gays of that era weren’t enjoying interracial friendships or sexual relations, but visual depictions of such activity were strictly taboo.

TOM OF FINLAND Untitled, 1987, Graphite on paper © Tom of Finland Foundation

Over the years, the occasional critic has depicted Tom in a less than favorable light, asserting that his drawings were somehow disrespectful to the Black male. This is simply not the case. In Tom’s world Black men are forces of maleness, possessing as much testosterone as their White brothers; equal and equally desirable. Rather, once again we find Tom doing his part to bring males together through mutual pleasure and camaraderie.

Tom portrayed men of different races and different skin colors as equals, acting out their natural sexualities long before it was conventionally acceptable to do so.





Published: 13th September 2021


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