For the cost of mailing a letter, you can be the proud owner of a piece of miniature homoerotica.
If you’re in Finland, that is.
That’s because Itella, the Finnish postal service, is releasing commemorative stamps featuring the art of Tom of Finland, or Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991). Laaksonen remains a towering and iconic figure in the gay art scene. His sketches, often explicit, were unapologetic depictions of gay sex and relationships. Laaksonen’s subjects were almost always muscle-bound, handsome figures, often bursting out of their clothes. His work, a meditation on masculinity, was also heavy on leather fetish imagery. It’s a pretty risque sheet of stamps, which will feature 33 different designs based on Laaksonen’s work. They even include a little exposed booty, but nothing hardcore.
“Of course, the choice was discussed, but we wanted to live in the year 2014,” Itella development director Markku Penttinen told the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.
Laaksonen’s art is part of a number of public collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.
“The sheet (of stamps) portrays a sensual life force and being proud of oneself,” said graphic designer Timo Berry, who selected the work that will be printed on stamps released this fall. “There is never too much of that in this northern country.”
The announcement of the Tom of Finland stamp follows news that the U.S. Postal Service is honoring gay rights icon Harvey Milk with a postage stamp that will be released on May 22, Harvey Milk Day. Milk, the San Francisco supervisor whose story was the basis for Gus Van Sant’s film “Milk,” was killed by a former city supervisor in 1978. Milk will be the first openly gay person person to grace a U.S. postage stamp, which features Milk’s picture and the LGBT pride flag.
“Linn’s Stamp News” says Washington, D.C., and San Francisco are both possibilities for first-day cities, where a stamp is first released.