Touko Laaksonen, better known to friends and fans simply as “Tom” was an uncompromising artist that drew as he fantasized, and in so doing, created a fantastic collection of erotic illustrations.
Born in 1920, Tom came up in a world terrified and disdainful of homosexuality, and therefore ignorant of its dimension and diversity.
In an era when gay men were pigeonholed as exclusively effeminate and flamboyant, Tom challenged stereotypes and broadened the public identity of queerness through his male gaze… of his male gays.
Today, Tom’s collection of illustrations continue to serve as an unabashed depiction of queer fantasy, which has paved the way for erotic artists to showcase their work and be proud of it.
Countless artists have enjoyed the freedom pioneered by Tom’s original work, best explained by filmmaker John Waters ; “Peter Berlin, Kenneth Anger, Joe Dallesandro, Jeff Stryker, Jim Morrison, James Bidgood, John Rechy, even Elvis and James Dean. None of them could have existed without Tom Of Finland’s art coming first. He took the word “butch” and turned it into a lifestyle. No, a reason to live.” (John Chiaverina, July 23, 2020, "Eight Artists on the Influence of Tom of Finland", The New York Times)