Today, May 8th 2020, marks the centenary of the birth of Touko Laaksonen, better known to the world as Tom of Finland. So pour yourself a glass of Tom of Finland wine or make a cocktail with some Tom of Finland vodka and raise a toast to this groundbreaking queer artist.
To mark Tom of Finland’s 100th birthday various international celebrations have been planned, including the publication of two books.
Tom of Finland, from Like, will be released on May 8th and is an updated Finnish language book that sheds light on Tom’s private life, his art and his spirit of joyfulness. The publishers will host an Instagram live at 7pm Helsinki time.
An updated edition of Tom’s biography from Cernunnos, Tom of Finland: The Official Life and Work of a Gay Hero, is fully illustrated and reveals a life of art, pleasure and liberation with texts authorized by Tom himself and a foreword by Jean Paul Gaultier.
Men.com is releasing an anthology series based on, and inspired by, the classic works of Tom of Finland with Cory Krueckeberg, Bruce LaBruce, Terry Miller, Matt Lambert and François Sagat directing and bringing their interpretations of the Tom universe to life.
The Finnish Diplomatic Missions in the US produce a Suomi–Finland Podcast series in English, and the Consulate General of Finland in Los Angeles visited TOM House earlier this year and have just released a podcast episode on 7th May, that reveals an intimate side of Tom and his contributions to society.
A memorial plaque will be placed on an apartment house where Tom lived in Helsinki, the Postal Museum in Tampere will present an online talk with Susanna Luoto about Tom’s correspondence. On Tom’s birthday MSC Finland – TOM’s Club will do an Facebook presentation at 6p Helsinki time and his home town of Kaarina will present an online concert tribute.
“As he confronted the stigmas and stereotypes that long burdened homosexual desire, his depictions of empowered gay men fully enjoying their sexuality proved liberating on social and aesthetic levels alike. The sheer range of his influence on the culture at large is immeasurable. His work assumes a key role in the art historical discourse (Tom’s drawings are in the collections of institutions like The Museum of Modern Art, New York and regularly appear in museum shows throughout the world), but also occupies a place in every corner of the popular imagination.” Says Durk Dehner, President and Cofounder of the Tom of Finland Foundation.
“We celebrate this centennial to honor what this one artist contributed to humankind.” He continues, “Tom devoted his life, his artistic career that spanned over five decades, to the vision of Homosexuals being free to be happy in loving whomever they desired – and in turn, for all of society to be supportive of his view. In many parts of the world it’s not safe to be LGBTQ+, so there is still much work to be done. Today, we encourage all to make something beautiful and share it – bake a cake, open a bottle of wine and raise a toast to Tom for all that he created and left us in his legacy.”
Celeberate on social media using the hashtag #TOMs100
Why not celebrate Tom of Finland’s 100th birthday by helping to support his legacy? Tom of Finland Foundation, dedicated to preserving Tom’s legacy and supporting erotic art since 1984, operates out of Tom of Finland House (TOM House), the artist’s former shared residence and now a Historic-Cultural Monument in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. It was founded by Tom and Durk Dehner in 1984.