Tom of Finland – My Hero

Nordic Gods
Men of the Forest

 TOM OF FINLAND (Finnish, 1920 – 1991)
Nordic God (From Men of the Forest series), 1969
Graphite on paper, 11.50” x 8.00”
ToFF Permanent Collection #69.11
© 1969 Tom of Finland Foundation

Touko Laaksonen Was Born in the Spring of 1920
and Became Tom of Finland in the Spring of 1957


The mention of “Tom of Finland” produces smiles; ears at attention. Tom of Finland is what we all want to be: the essence of a man we all want to meet.

Tom of Finland is the uberman, fantastic in all ways. He is the embodiment of all things favorable in life. Tom personifies nature and exemplifies reasonable thought.


Tom of Finland knew his own mission and the purpose of his drawings. As with most Finns, he spoke using few words and was to the point:

     With purpose I wanted to influence Gays, to change their opinion of themselves. I also wanted to influence Straight people so they could understand and accept the beauty and rights that Gay people should have.

     I wanted to show Gays they can feel happy together. I wanted to tell them they have a right to enjoy life in their way – Gays being together feeling happy, being proud of who they are.

It wasn’t until he was in his 60s that Tom realized how powerfully his messages had been received by the world.


Tom set the proud love of man-by-man in full motion. In 2,000 years, no one has produced such remarkable changes in worldview with such a simple message: Gay = Good.




TOM’s dad

Tom of Finland’s real name is Touko Laaksonen. His father was Edvin Laaksonen and he was born in 1885. When Edvin had finished teacher’s training college, he worked first as a teacher in Hausjärvi, then the town of Kaarina. Besides teaching, he participated in community activities; he was member of the local government council, the election board and the church council. He was also chairman of the Finnish Amateur Musicians Association.

“Edvin Laaksonen was the chairman of the management at the Commune of Kaarina Library from 1920-1939.”

The Public Library management in the 1920s. From the left: V. Viik, A. Laiho, Edv. Laaksonen, H. Heimo, T. Niemi and A. J. Sinisalo

The History of Kaarina County, Part 4
Author: Kerttu Innamaa
Publisher: Kaarina History Committee
Publishing year: 1957

TOM’s Finnish Name Day – May 24th

Finland is one of the countries in Europe which celebrates Name Days (called Nimipäivä in Finnish). The tradition of celebrating Name Days dedicates a name or names (male and female) to every calendar day of the year. A person then celebrates a Name Day on the day in the calendar where his or her given name appears.

Tom of Finland was born on May 8th, 1920 with the name “Touko Valio Laaksonen”. May in Finnish is “Toukokuu”. His Name Day is May 24th.

The names used, and their date placement, on the calendar are often associated with religious names, religious days, national historical personalities and national historical events. Traditional country-specific given names, and even new given names which have been integrated and accepted into a list of nationally recognized names are also given their own position on the calendar.

In Finland, Name Days can be celebrated in the same way as a Birthday, where the individual having the Name Day will receive greeting cards, flowers or gifts from friends and family. Name Day celebrations, do however, differ from person to person and some individuals may choose not to mark the day with “pomp and circumstance”. Nevertheless, regardless of how a person celebrates his/her Name Day, they appreciate being wished “Happy Name Day!” (which in Finnish is “Hyvää Nimipäivää!”)

A complete list of Finnish Name Days.


European Capital of Culture is the pedal hard on the gay imagery

Martin Rosefeldt visited the show in Turku.

Nestled in the south-west Finland, Turku Saturday became the European Capital of Culture 2011. Throughout the year art events will succeed. To begin, the medieval city of 175,000 inhabitants celebrates native son: Tom of Finland, whose real name Touko Laaksonen. Died in 1991, he was the illustrator who has revolutionized the homoerotic imagery. Under his wealth, from the 50s, at a time when homosexuality was still a crime, gay people are virile, happy and sexually very active. Sailors, uniforms, night meetings … folklore fantasized that traded under the cloak and has toured the world. Since his death, Tom of Finland came in galleries and museums.

La capitale européenne de la culture met la pédale dure sur l’imagerie gay

Nichée au sud-ouest de la Finlande, Turku est devenue samedi la capitale européenne de la culture 2011. Tout au long de l’année, les événements artistiques vont se succéder. Pour commencer, la cité médiévale de 175.000 habitants célèbre un enfant du pays : Tom of Finland, de son vrai nom Touko Laaksonen. Disparu en 1991, il est l’illustrateur qui a révolutionné l’imagerie homoérotique. Sous sa mine, dès les années 50, à une époque où l’homosexualité était encore un crime, les gays sont virils, heureux et sexuellement très actifs. Marins, uniformes, rencontres nocturnes… un folklore fantasmé qu’on s’échange sous le manteau et qui a fait le tour du monde. Depuis sa mort, Tom of Finland est entré dans les galeries et les musées.