The Finnish postal service published their brand new stamp, honoring the Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen, aka Tom of Finland. The daring pictures chosen for the stamps caused an imminent tempest in a teapot, even so that someone came up with an online appeal to stop the distribution of the stamps. The strong public reaction towards these “gay stamps” is interesting, when you consider that Moomin stamps have and probably always will be one of the Finnish postal service’s best selling items and Tove Jansson shared her life with a woman. But it seems that we’re ok with an artist’s sexuality as long as it’s straight or not in our faces.
And Tom of Finland’s characters are definitely that – in your face.
Even the picture chosen for the stamps shows a feature that is well known from Laaksonen’s drawings: the characters don’t try to hide themselves, their attitude or their sexuality. Instead they stare straight at you, demanding, challenging. It’s mesmerizing how Laaksonen melds the incredibly sensitive graphic arts, the tiny details, the way his pen has caressed the hefty shapes of his characters with the strong topics, sturdy poses and that non-apologetic attitude that makes us feel either attracted or a little threatened. Or maybe the problem is that the viewer feels both of those emotions.
All in all, we can celebrate these stamps simply as works of art (which btw is a recurring topic in stamps, check out this website for affirmation), but there is also a deeper meaning: The postal service does represent (as some people opposing the stamp have also noted) something very fundamental to our society and thus it is wonderful that Finnish people are starting to feel proud of our stranger in a strange land, whose legacy will live on in the leather biker hats of future generations.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, my dear reader, for this spring with us and wish You a Wonderful Summer! But hey, before you go, check out this amazing BTSB Summer Issue we put together for you! Listen to a podcast, read a good story, learn what the heck is PiipShow and how to make awesome salsa, check out wonderful travel pictures and relax with our Summer Playlist!