On September 8, Finnish company Itella Posti will release stamps featuring the work of Tom of Finland. The postage honors his art’s “confident and proud homoeroticism,” as the Itella Posti proclaims, with two drawings from his prolific career selected for the September–October run.
The stamps were designed by graphic artist Timo Berry with Susanna Luoto of the Tom of Finland Foundation. “The sheet portrays a sensual life force and being proud of oneself,” Berry said. “There is never too much of that in this northern country.” Tom of Finland, aka Touko Laaksonen, is also being celebrated in an exhibition of his correspondence from the 1940s until his death in 1991 as part of the inauguration of Finland’s Postal Museum on September 6.
The Tom of Finland stamps are being joined by some autumn scenes of the countryside and sprightly Christmas designs, but considering the uproar in the United States over just the removal of a cigarette from the lips of Robert Johnson on his 1994 stamp and the one for Jackson Pollock in 1999, the fact that the Finnish stamps include smoking along with unapologetic sexuality is pretty incredible. It’s not, however, the first time nudity has made it onto a stamp — for example, the Goya stamps from the 1930 Spanish-American Exhibition in Seville.
Meanwhile, the United States Postal Service is releasing a stamp of slain San Francisco politician Harvey Milk on May 22, Harvey Milk Day. After his life as one of the first openly gay elected politicians in the country, he’ll now be the first one to grace a US stamp.