Our Way Gay World

Abby Zimet

It seemed like a big deal when the new U.S. Forever stamp was announced: To be unveiled next month, it bears the image of Harvey Milk, the country's assassinated and first openly gay elected official, proclaimed in the statement as "a visionary leader." But nothing says changing times like Finland's new stamps, which boast the homoerotic, bondage-themed, fetish-leaning, leather-wearing drawings of iconic gay artist Touko Laaksonen, aka Tom of Finland, who called them his "dirty pictures." His images of "confident and strong male figures," to be unveiled in the fall along with a series of more sedate garden scenes and bridges, celebrate "a sensual life force and being proud of oneself" - especially in a country still debating same-sex marriage. Those involved in the selection process admitted there was some heated discussion about the choice, but "we wanted to live in the year 2014." Cue right-wing heads exploding. Would that Harvey Milk had lived to see them.







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Laaksonen always called his erotic sketches his "dirty pictures." While many of his drawings were incredibly explicit, the stamps will not include any hardcore images.

The procedure for approving the stamp wasn't without it's fair share of drama. Since many of Laaksonen's drawings were sexual, the idea of honoring an artist best known for sexualized images of leather daddies, muscle men, and hardons was a little contentious.

"Of course, the choice was discussed," Development Director Itella Posti Markku Penttinen told the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. "But we wanted to live in the year 2014."

Laaksonen, one of the world's best known artists from Finland, died in 1991. His drawings have been a staple in the gay community with merchandise featuring his figures continuing to sell at a brisk pace.

Penttinen pointed out to the newspaper that the artist's work is currently on permanent display at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum, and both the New York and San Francisco modern art museums.

Read more at http://www.bilerico.com/2014/04/check_out_the_new_finnish_tom_of_finland_stamp.php#wXkz971pBzkoDCl2.99

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