TOM OF FINLAND FOUNDATION

TOM OF
FINLAND

THE
FOUNDATION

EROTIC ART
GALLERIES

EXHIBITIONS
& EVENTS

ARTIST &
MUSEUM LINKS

HOME

OVER A QUARTER CENTURY OF DEDICATION TO PROTECTING, PRESERVING AND PROMOTING EROTIC ART.

DISPATCH WINTER 2002

BLACK MEN IN TOM'S WORLD

It is well known to all who have followed Tom of Finland that he held a deep fascination for dark-skinned men. In the 1980s, while Tom was living and working in the States, he captured as many aspects of American men as he could, and had an ongoing exposure to African-Americans as friends, models, or merely objects of desire taken in from afar. From cops to construction workers to leather guys at the local watering holeóTomís interest in black men was strongly manifested in his output during this final decade at his craft.

Tom of Finland (1961)

Tom of Finland (1986)

Tracing back through the decades, however, we discover that the earliest documented work in which Tom depicts a person of color is much earlier, in 1960.

In Tomís universe, all men are created equal, and are equal to fuck or be fucked. There is no point in using the term intercourse; Tom would only find it demeaning. His men were basic and unpretentious, following their manly instincts and enjoying every minute of it.

There was a period when Tomís primary market was Bob Mizerís magazine, The Athletic Model Guild. Mizer commissioned work from Tom on a monthly basis, but his drawings of black men couldnít be printed in the U.S. at the time, being deemed unacceptable. This didnít deter Tom, who drew whatever he found desirable. Tom depicted interracial sex and showed men getting plowed by both races. He found this naturally appealing, and put the same amount of detail into his renderings of black men as he did of whites.

Tomís portrayals of men of color found their market through European publishers. Tourists would purchase them abroad, bring them home to the States, then reproduce them and send copies to friends. It wasnít that gays of that era werenít enjoying interracial friendships or sexual relations, but visual depictions of such activity were strictly taboo.

Over the years, the occasional critic has depicted Tom in a less than favorable light, asserting that his drawings were somehow disrespectful to the black male. This is simply not the case. In Tomís world blacks are forces of maleness, possessing as much testosterone as their white brothers; equal and equally desirable. Rather, once again we find Tom doing his part to bring males together through mutual pleasure and camaraderie.

Tom portrayed men of different races and different skin colors as equals, acting out their natural sexualities long before it was conventionally acceptable to do so.

   ó Durk Dehner


DISPATCH CONTENTS | FOUNDATION HOME

© TOM OF FINLAND FOUNDATION 2002


— Share This Page —
Share |

HAPPY SEXUALITY
“In those days, a gay man was made to feel nothing but shame about his feelings and his sexuality. I wanted my drawings to counteract that, to show gay men being happy and positive about who they were. Oh, I didn’t sit down to think this all out carefully. But I knew — right from the start — that my men were going to be proud and happy men!"
— Tom of Finland