The focus of the LGBT History Month event is “31 Days, 31 Icons.” Each day in October is devoted to the life history of an LGBT icon from the cinema and television, media, music, politics, the arts, and much more. On each day of the month, an icon’s “resources page” is revealed for public review. If you want to catch up the icons already revealed for this year, you can view them via the event’s Icon Search.
This year, October 18 is devoted to a figure of considerable interest to the gear fetish community, Touko Laaksonen, better known to the world as. Even beyond the gear fetish community, Tom of Finland is generally considered to be one of the most important gay male artists of all time. Cultural historian, Joseph W. Slade, called Tom of Finland, “the most influential creator of gay pornographic images.”
Without a doubt, Tom of Finland’s 3500 illustrations are certainly among the most widely recognized in the art world. As a group, they are considered especially significant not just as works of gay male erotica, but also as visual commentary on the broader socio-sexuality of the gay male community. The New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) has acquired several pieces as part of its permanent collection.
To say that Tom of Finland’s works have universal appeal – even among gay men – would be mistaken, however. Like Mapplethorpe with whom he was friends, Tom of Finland’s work draw their share of controversy. For example, his flattering treatment of men in Nazi uniforms (which comprises a small number of works overall) has led some to infer an affinity for Naziism by the Finnish artist.
Whether you agree or disagree with this assessment, or even whether you like his artistic style in general, it would be tough for anyone in the LGBT community to dispute Tom of Finland’s inclusion as an “icon.” If you are interested in learning more about Tom of Finland, the icon, visit the LGBT History month resources page devoted to him.
Remember, the 2013 resources page will not be available until October 18th, the day set aside for Tom of Finland. However, we wanted to post this article in advance to give readers a heads up to check it out when it become available in a few days.
In the meantime, there is also a well-written Wikipedia page covering the artist’s life and work, its cultural impact, and legacy.
- Seven school districts, including Broward and Palm Beach counties, recognize LGBT History Month (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- Tom of Finland Movie in the Works (huffingtonpost.com)
- Public Schools “Celebrating” LGBT History Month (canadafreepress.com)