Male Order: Tom of Finland and the Queer Iconography of Postage Stamps
April, 2014 · By Justin Bengry
On April 13, 2014, Itella Posti Oy, the Finnish postal service, announced the release in September of what are possibly the most openly erotic postage stamps to appear anywhere in mainstream circulation. The series of three stamps commemorate the work of Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991), better known as Tom of Finland (link NSFW). The Finnish stamps are remarkable for their unambiguous and deliberate depiction of homoerotic images, nudity, and dom/sub sexuality that Itella lauds as “confident and proud homoeroticism.” They are also remarkable for their memorialization of a queer man through explicit depictions of the erotic art for which he became an icon to other queer men around the world from the 1950s onward. But looking at the Tom of Finland stamps, and recognizing postage stamps as an incredibly accessible and widely distributed site for history and commemoration, it is worth considering how other queer men and women have recently been featured. How do postage stamps contribute to a public history of queer lives and sexualities?
This post was originally published at “NOTCHES: (re)marks on the history of sexuality” on 14 April 2014.
Tags: Finland, postage stamps, Suomi, Tom of Finland, Touko Laaksonen, Tove Jansson