Thursday, April 12, 2018

Tom of Finland: They Called it Filth. It Became a Revolution.

by Drew Martin
I haven't posted in a long time. I've been inward. But I was really moved by the film Tom of Finland, which I saw yesterday - a biopic about Touko Valio Laaksonen (1920-1991).

In terms of cultural influence, I am not sure there is anyone who matches Touko because his drawings created a liberated environment for what was in his day a crime* - being gay. I doubt the LGBT community would be as advanced today without his work and I would even go so far as to say he invented gay pride. 

Touko is famous for his "stylized highly masculinized homoerotic fetish art" which is one way of saying - he drew what turned him on. And by drawing his fantasy, he presented to the world a healthy view of a taboo culture. As we see in the film, it was incredibly dangerous to be gay.** The police searches were unrelenting, the arrests were brutal, and punishment was either jail time or being put into an asylum for "treatment."

The film could have been a little less obvious in parts but it certainly shows his journey. I like how it does not focus too much on the artwork. It's not a parade of drawings but rather it shows his evolution of first creating the images for himself, then using them for hook-ups (which wasn't always a success), and finally as something he put out in the world, which changed the lives of many of his fans.