We explore everything from the artist’s favorite restaurant to after hour cruising spots.
Photo of Terry Miller by Mikko Rasila
“A cruising spot made famous by its inclusion in the Tom of Finland movie, released in 2017. The cobblestone road leads from the Helsinki Observatory to town, bracketed by large trees and shady areas perfect for spotting your new Finnish boyfriend.” -Terry Miller
Few artists have had as big an impact on gay culture as Touko Laaksonen, better known as Tom of Finland. Not only was he prolific (Tom created somewhere near 3,500 illustrations in his 40 year career), but the hyper-sexualized, masculine men featured in his work are nothing short of iconic.
Watch this exclusive video from the It Gets Better Project and the Tom of Finland Foundation.The influence of Tom of Finland is extraordinary. “You can find Tom of Finland drawings in almost every leather bar, and in gay bars all over the world, “said Terry Miller, model, ToF ambassador, and co-founder of the It Gets Better Project (a nonprofit that uplifts and empowers LGBTQ+ youth around the globe). “It was almost like a code — this is where you’re accepted. This is where you’ll find a community for yourself.”
To commemorate Tom’s, what would have been 98th birthday, Terry visited TOM House, which has served as a safe-haven for LGBTQ+ young people, artists in residence, and for anyone in search of belonging, to give us an inside look into the 35-year old landmark and to chat about the ToF partnership with the It Gets Better Project.
For years, Tom of Finland’s work has served as a means of connecting people and creating a conversation around what it means to be LGBTQ+. In a lot of ways, it’s very similar to the It Gets Better Project. Just like it only takes one person to say “have you seen one of these videos” and then you go online and you find thousands of It Gets Better videos — there are thousands of Tom of Finland pictures and drawings that tell the history of our community.
Touko Laaksonen aka ‘Tom of Finland’ is one of the most influential and celebrated figures of twentieth century gay culture. Over the course of four decades, he produced some 3,500 illustrations, mostly featuring men with exaggerated primary and secondary sex traits, wearing tight or partially removed clothing.
Now we are happy to introduce Joakim Andreasson, who has been spearheading licensing for Tom of Finland Foundation since 2014. You can read our exclusive interview with him about Tom of Finland Store, and you will find an exclusive interview with Terry Miller, the official TOM’s Man, too.
JA I first came up-close and personal with Tom’s work in Paris when I bought one of the Taschen book in the gay book store in Marais. I was thereafter captivated – And Tom has been part of my life since. I never imagined that I would end up working with Tom’s art in this capacity – But it certainly has been a sexy ride…
JATom of Finland is a very fine movie – I have seen it a few times and have been involved throughout the making if it. Each time I see it I get touched by the bigger picture of Tom’s influence. The positive message of what he accomplished is what keeps us going, and keeps us creative in coming up with new avenues to communicate his vast body of work.
Tom, with businessman and friend Durk Dehner, cofounded Tom of Finland Company, and in 1984 established Tom of Finland Foundation dedicated to collecting, preserving, and exhibiting homoerotic artwork.
TM I really am out there to represent the brand in a physical manifestation. I try to present myself as the confident and sexually domineering guy that Tom made come to life so vividly… and I love it! The reaction has been incredible and gratifying. It’s totally fucking cool for guys to point at me and say, “You’re Tom of Finland!”
TM Visiting the Foundation house and getting to run around it all day and just go where we wanted and explore was incredible. Being able to go to Tom’s room, sit at his desk, hands on the last drawing he was working on at the time. It was like the Holy of Holies for kinky gay men. I was in awe. I will never forget getting the chance to lay in his bed and just close my eyes and think, “What was he dreaming of…?”