Tom of Finland was born Touko Laaksonen in 1920 in Southwest Finland. The town was Kaarina and the area where he grew up is now part of the City of Turku.
The Laaksonen siblings, c.1923: From left to right – Touko; Kaija, the baby; Salme, the oldest; Hely; and Pentti.
We send our deepest condolences to Tom’s family who still live in the area, our friends there, and all that are affected by the acts of violence in Turku. We commend the people in the city, Finns and visitors, who showed compassion and courage in helping the victims.
Even ardent fans of Tom of Finland might wonder whether his life story could possibly rival the allure of his famously bulging gay erotica. It most surely does. The film begins during World War II, during which Tom shares a secret sex life with many fellow soldiers as they await invasion. When Tom ends up killing a Russian paratrooper in a lonely field, the specter of the young man haunts him and eventually inspires the principal leather-clad character in Tom’s art. The story continues on — through Tom’s search for love in homophobic times and places, ultimately leading him to America where he is surprised to learn his drawings have made him something of a celebrity.
Performed in nearly equal parts Finnish and English, this first-rate production captures one man’s personal journey, the evolving gay experience of the last 70 years and the power of Tom’s creations.
THE WORD: The true focus of the film is the story behind Tom’s important, irrepressible work. COMING TO: Theaters in New York on October 13, Los Angeles on the 20th (at the Nuart) and San Francisco, then selected cities across the country.