The censors of the 1950s adhered to a long, long list of rules as to what could not be portrayed. Sexual acts and frontal nudity were forbidden, of course, but also—among other things—allk issing, hugging, caressing, obscene or lascivious or suggestive gestures or facial expressions, and all body hair south of the nape of the neck. Even the most casual physical contact was not permitted. To come up with subjects that had erotic appeal yet did not fall afoul of one of that list of don’ts took real talent.
Tom could do it. All previous physique art and muscle photography had worked very hard to pretend that the work was, at the least, heterosexual if not utterly asexual. But not Tom. Tom not only drew men who were knowingly sexy, he managed to convey that they found each other sexy, too—yet he did it so subtly that there was nothing for the censor to object to.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of his work at the time was that a “Tom of Finland” drawing was identifiable instantly as homosexual, even to adolescents and others who had little actual experience with the gay world.
Published: 23rd June 2021Tags: #TomOfFinland101, 101 Quiz, The Official Life and Work of a Gay Hero