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Tom of Finland    

was born in the rural hamlet of Kaarina, Finland, May 8, 1920 as “Touko Laaksonen”. His parents, both teachers, raised him in a educated cultured environment. His playground was nature, surrounded by lakes, forests and farmers fields. Tom’s Men were already the farm labors, loggers and tradesmen that populated his rural Finland.

Touko attended military officers academy, leading and fighting in the front lines of Finland’s Winter War with Russia, where he developed his deep admiration for men in uniforms. Post War he received a degree in Advertising design, became art director of the Helsinki bureau of the largest international advertising firm at the time. In 1957 he was first published by AMG Studios in America. It was here his artistic name came into being, signing his name as “Tom” the English equivalent, the studio expanded it to include his country of origin and the name “Tom of Finland” was born. He stayed as their main contributing artist in every issue for over 18 years. Simultaneously he was creating works for publications in England, Germany and most countries in the western world.

Tom’s driving force through the four decades of his artistic career was to provide positive role models for gay men inspiring messages of self pride and happiness in men loving men. His work transcended into the popular culture and became part of the culture. His works reside in many museums of the world as MoMA in New York. He has been hailed as one of the most influential artists of the last century. It is difficult to find any one other individual who has done more for gay liberation than this humble Finn who spent most of his working career in his studios in Finland and America.

Tom spent his final days at age 71 in his native Finland. It was there and then that he received recognition from his own country through the national televising of the documentary on his life and influence.
He passed in his sleep in his home, the way he wanted it. His message was always no shame, no guilt be proud and happy.