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Tom of Finland's birthplace votes against street name tribute

The once-taboo, homoerotic drawings by artist Tom of Finland helped make him one of Finland's most famous artists of the 20th Century. However, development board members in the town of Kaarina - where the artist was born - voted against renaming a street in his honour on Wednesday.

Tom of Finland -näyttely Taidehallissa.
Tom of Finland's birth town is not ready to name a street after him. Image: Pauliina Karjalainen / Yle

The southwestern town of Kaarina was not prepared to name a street after Touko Laaksonen, who is widely credited for pioneering homoerotic art under the pseudonym Tom of Finland.

Instead, the town's development board on Wednesday voted 8-3 to rename an existing road after the philanthropist Oskari Hollmén, who is credited with keeping Kaarina an independent municipality in the 1960s.

Laaksonen, who was born in Kaarina in 1920, is considered one of Finland’s most famous artists internationally. His highly stylised drawings of gay men only started to gain a mainstream following after his death in 1991, but his art had been revered by the gay community since the early 1970s.

Earlier this year, a square in front of the cultural centre Logomo in Turku was named after Tom of Finland.

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