By Emma McGowan
Massive pecs. Thighs bulging from tight uniforms. Perfectly globular butts. That’s what people across Finland can expect to be slapped onto their snail mail this September when Itella, their national postal service, rolls out the Tom of Finland stamp collection this fall.
Even if you haven’t heard the name “Tom of Finland,” you’re probably seen his work. Arguably one of the most influential gay pornographers of all time, Tom of Finland was famous for his hyper-masculine men getting it on with other men. With a preference for uniforms and leather, Tom’s drawings of muscly, well-hung hunks are iconic in the world of gay smut. Think leather daddies crossed with Village People and you get the idea.
Finland's stamp collection is less sexually explicit than the majority of Tom’s work, but does include at least one bare booty, complete with a mustachioed face peering out from between muscular legs, a wink and a nod to what Itella is calling the “proud homoeroticism” of Tom of Finland’s work.
While I love these stamps for their sheer kitsch factor, the coolest thing about them is the fact that they were created by a man who came of age in a time when gay was definitely not okay. Born in 1920, Tom (or Touko Laaksonen, his Finnish name) grew up in a world where being openly gay meant not only never marrying and never even dreaming of having children, but also violence and, potentially, death.
The sea change in acceptance of gay people in Finland (and worldwide) that the production of these stamps signifies is pretty staggering. I’m not saying by any means that gay always equals leather daddy, but there’s a certain amount of fuck you to the establishment embodied in these images that was essential for pushing gay rights forward when they were made.
Pair one of these guys up with the Harvey Milk stamp that will be released on Harvey Milk Day (May 22) and you can fit two very different influential men in the fight for gay rights on one letter home to mom.
(Larger versions below.)