Tom of Finland: the man, the myth, the homoerotic legend

24th May 2023, 1:24 pm



TOM OF FINLAND Untitled, 1972


Tom of Finland was a Finnish artist widely known for his homoerotic artwork. His drawings of Gay hypermasculinity and sexuality created a community for fetish culture. LGBTQ+ fashion, entertainment, and pop culture channel his creative vision across various platforms.

However, who Tom of Finland was, and how he came to be, remains a mystery for many. Let’s journey back to discover the man behind the bulging pen strokes. His artistic influence lives on in modern celebrations of sex between men.


Who was Tom of Finland?


PHILIP STUART Tom of Finland, c. 1984


Tom of Finland was born 8th May, 1920 in a small village on the southwest coast of Finland. He was known by the name “Tom” among all – family, friends, lovers, and fans. This was also the name he used to sign his secret Gay drawings to protect his identity.

Throughout his lifetime, Tom fixated on the sculpted contours of muscular bodies, especially the ones accentuated by tight uniforms and the creases of well-endowed bulges. In addition, he found the rugged sensuality of leather, mustaches, and masculine strength alluring.

Growing up in the countryside exposed the artist to the ruggedness of farmers and loggers. After serving in an anti-aircraft unit in Helsinki, he went on to study advertising at university. During his time in the military, he found himself drawn to the raw, sweaty masculinity of construction workers, sailors, and police officers at the city ports.

As a lieutenant, he finally got to act on his insatiable libido with fellow (and invading) soldiers patrolling the Eastern Front during World War II. The temporary blackouts of the streets transpired as the dark concrete cruising grounds of his fantasies.

These themes permeated Tom of Finland’s art and served as the unashamed foundation of his future legacy. It all began with Tom’s “dirty drawings,” which he created privately while working as a commercial artist, unsuspecting that they would one day resonate with gay men worldwide.


Tom of Finland Foundation continues to celebrate the artist


JIM WIGLER Durk & Tom, c. 1982


Tom of Finland is famous and will always be celebrated because he turned Gay sex into an artistic genre.

Tom of Finland Foundation was established in 1984, seven years before the artist’s passing. The Foundation looks to preserve, protect, and celebrate his legacy as the master of homoerotic art and his vast collection of works. It continues to live up to its mission.

In 2014, the Finnish postal service released three postage stamps based on one of Tom’s most famous drawings. A “nipple, shapely buttocks, and a muscular, mustachioed man smoking a cigarette” cemented him as one of the most impactful artists who ever lived.

In 2017, award-winning filmmaker Dome Karukoski brought Tom of Finland to the big screen. The 90th Academy Awards selected the film as the Finnish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film.

The entertainment industry touts the artist, who is spotted in high-profile collaborations like Nicopanda. However, what sticks the most is the remembrance of the Gay community, who embrace his equal energy and lust.

The country of Finland even memorializes him with a custom emoji that they published among a set of 55 other iconic Finnish items.


Published: 24th May 2023

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