Check Out Finland’s New Graphic Gay Bondage Stamps

Touko Laaksonen, renowned Finnish artist, is recognized with three stamps for release next month.

This fall, the country will begin selling stamps that feature the “confident and proud homoeroticism” of Tom of Finland, an artist renowned as “beyond question the most influential creator of gay pornographic illustration.”

To commemorate the centenary of beloved bisexual writer and artist Tove Jansson, Posti is also selling Jansson stamps—though they aren't quite as exuberantly queer as the Tom of Finland collection.

Tags: Finland, Gay bondage, stamps

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I read several articles on this topic, both on gay blogs and "regular" press.  I'm sure that somewhere, someone gets the point - I hope so -  but I'm yet to see it.

Before and during the time of Tom of Finland imagery, most gay men were pictured as universally weak, effete, sissies.  Worthless and worthy only of scorn.   There was near universal persecution.  Self image for most was down the toilet.  That's not just how straight people treated gay men, it's also how many gay men treated each other.

Where not thought of as sissies, gay men were reviled as potential predators of teens and boys.  Going after the vulnerable.  Pederasts.

The Tom if Finland images were revolutionary.  They depicted gay men as virile, masculine, powerful images.  For gay men who appreciated that imagery, it was a powerful statement of their pride and sexuality.  It was their equivalent of the comic super hero, but sexual.  In fact, if you look at some images of Batman and Superman and The Incredible Hulk, they are not that far from the Tom of Finland ideal - the muscularity is there, but not the vague threat of the Tom of Finland images.

The object of desire for Tom of Finland is not the vulnerable, or the young, it is the fully grown, adult, mature, masculine man.  Tom of Finland takes on both stereotypes, and gives something powerful to replace them.

That is what the stamps should celebrate.  The artist Touko Laaksonen had a subversive role in uplifting the images of gay men to a place where they could explore who they were, and what it meant, and break down stereotypes.  Gay men could view themselves as strong, powerful, sexy, men.  For them, it was a liberating message.

For some, breaking the bonds of oppression meant knowing their feminine side.  For some, it was knowing their masculine side.  Probably most revolutionary, for some it was knowing their ordinariness, or their intellectualism, or their professionalism, or their nurturing side.  There is no Tom of the Microbiology Lab (that would have been me, skinny, glasses, with books and lab coat),  white coat and beaker in hand, but that's OK.  Breaking down one stereotype, one limitation, makes the others weaker as well.   It was different for each, and one aspect did not rule out any of the others.

To me that is what celebrating Tom of Finland - Touko Laaksonen - is about.  I wish the bloggers and the pundits would figure that out.

Daniel, very eloquently stated.  You always seem to have an "even keel" sensibility in your outlook that is spot-on. 

Daniel, you make good sense! I had not thought of the images that way and I was wrong. I am so glad you write so clearly and empathically about the situation of gay men and their self-awareness and the challenges faced in order to be their true selves. I wanted to belong to the LGBT group because I have no real understanding of what the experiences were. I know I tend to like the personalities of gay men and lesbian women. The hurdles faced were beyond my awareness.
I appreciate you being so honest in your description, and clear on the value and even the necessity of men to be able to express manliness and sexuality in ways that match needs.

My reality is that I get anxious with expressions of sexuality hetero- or homo-sexual. I am not bragging about this; I am describing my feelings. Furthermore, it is clear that I need to leave the group because I do not want others to censor themselves in trying to take care of my anxiety, and I have many other groups where I can feel safe and nourished. I do not say this in judgement of anyone else; it is a reality of my shortcomings. 

I sincerely apologize if I caused anyone discomfort. 

Joan, nothing to apologize for, and your comment led to me dwellin on this topic in a more thoughtful way.

For what its worth, I most comfortable among people who are outside the usual American mainstream. That may be a relic of past abuses, or may be because I am so not-mainstream that there is no "in group" for me. So I have a little insight into what you express.

GLBT people in the US have been pretty much liberated to express themselves sexually for a generation. Where the challenge is, and the oppression, and the liberation, is to be fully able to participate in society as who the / we are, to have our families and jobs and careers and home without persecution.

All who are well meaning are welcome in this group. It needs to be a safe place for expression and community, with a diversity of temperaments and opinions and expressions.

I think of the groups as more of a way to oganize topics and interests, thst in group and out group. Your thoughts and good eill are always embraced.

Thank yu Daniel for understanding. 

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