Earlier this year it was revealed that Finland postal officials planned to roll out a series of new postage stamps dedicated to gay erotic artist Tom of Finland - Gay Star News now reports those stamps are due to get lots of licks.
The commemorative stamps dedicated to Tom of Finland, aka artist Touko Laaksonen, have been pre-ordered by people in 178 countries, breaking sales records for Finland's post service. The stamps officially went on sale Monday, with the biggest overseas orders coming from Sweden, Britain, the U.S., and France.
Along with the new stamps comes a new exhibition of Tom of Finland drawings and letters, which are being displayed in Tampere's new postal museum. Gay Star News reports the lines outside the museum where the stamps were being sold were long.
"We haven't seen this kind of interest before in Posti's history and we probably won't again soon," Posti development chief Markku Penttinen told Finnish news site Yle Uutiset. "Our starting point was to get Touko Laaksonen's artwork in our stamps. We know that he was very well-known globally. Of course, the subject matter is also topical and much discussed. This equation has worked better than we anticipated."
Timo Berry, the stamp's designer, told the site he's been overwhelmed by the response to the stamps.
"I was really over the moon, I jumped around the office," he said. "Tom of Finland's greatest significance is that these gay figures were given their masculinity. Previously they had been portrayed as 'girlish.' It's great that these sketches that had to be sold in secret can now be publicly viewed on envelopes and postcards."
Soon after the stamps were revealed a petition from the online petition site addressit.com was created, calling for the Tom of Finland images to be nixed.
NO Tom of Finland-stamps to Finland!
We, the signed, demand that Itella won't publish the planned homoerotic stamp set. Itella plans to publish a stamp to honour artist and gay icon Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991). The sexual orientation of the men in the images don't leave room for any interpretation.
We don't want Finland to be represented on homeland and international shipping with homoerotic themes. Traditionally stamps have shown themes that are aesthetically beautiful and culturally valuable. Strong homoerotic theme in stamps is not either.
In the future we want Itella to think more carefully how to select themes that all Finns can be proud of. At the same time we want to thank them for all the beautiful stamps we have been proud to use on our mail.
Laaksonen died in 1991 at the age of 71 but created more than 3,500 illustrations during his 40 years of artistry.
From our media partner EDGE