An excerpt from Tom of Finland’s war journal has appeared in a new book that literally lays bare intimate moments shared by servicemen during World War II.
During the war, soldiers were encouraged to establish close “buddy” relationships for emotional support. Recently released by art book publisher TASCHEN, My Buddy: World War II Laid Bare features photos of these intimate buddy relationships from an archive collected by Los Angeles photographer Michael Stokes, along with texts by writers such as Gore Vidal.
Featured on pages 26 and 27 of the book are excerpts from Tom of Finland’s journal of his 1940-1944 military service, which is held by Tom of Finland Foundation. Tom’s contribution to My Buddy is from page 10 of his journal and it includes a photo (c. 1942) that Tom took of Finnish soldiers bathing. Tom captioned this photo “Mainiolla uimarannalla“, which translates into English as “Ideally the Beach”.
Tom’s inclusion in My Buddy is fitting: the intimacy and rapport of the men in My Buddy readily reminds us of the buddy bonds formed among “TOM’s Men”. In viewing the book’s images of homosocial bonding (much of it involving naked horseplay), we are reminded not only of Tom’s iconic homoerotic drawings of men in uniform, but the naked “tomfoolery” among all of Tom’s men.
My Buddy is edited by Dian Hanson, who has also edited various Taschen publications of Tom’s work (including the 666-page, extra large format collection Tom of Finland XXL).