1978:Tom of Finland has his first U.S. exhibit at Robert Opel’s Fey Way Gallery in San Francisco.
Robert Opel was not only famous for being the man who streaked the 1974 Academy Awards. He also opened the first erotic art gallery in San Francisco called Fey-Way Studios (1978- 1979)
While Tom of Finland’s work went on to become famous worldwide. Tragically things did not turn out the same way for Robert Opel.
On the night of July 7, 1979, a crazed gunman by the name of Maurice Keenan killed Robert Opel in his own gallery shortly after putting on a stage performance entitled The Mock-Execution of Dan White (Harvey Milk’s murderer).
Keenan made off with $5 dollars and a camera.
1979:A gang of teenage boys stands outside Tennessee Williams’s home in Key West, Florida, and begins throwing beer cans and firecrackers at the house while chanting “Come on out, faggot!” The incident is just the latest in a string of bizarre homophobic attacks aimed at the openly gay playwright.
Tennessee Williams’ life now on Key West in a way resembles the plot of one of his plays: an injured innocent in a honky-tonk town pitted against uprovoked malice, deliberate cruelty. Since January, his gardener has been murdered, his house ransacked twice. He has been mugged twice on the street, once reported, once not. His dog has disappeared. One winter evening some kids stood outside his house and threw beer cans on the porch, yelling at America’s greatest playwright, “Come on out, faggot.” The only person home at the time was a house-guest, writer Dotson Rader, and when the kids set off some fire-crackers, Rader remembers thinging: “This is it. They’ve resorted to guns.”
Yet Williams has reacted with the resiliency of one of his heroines, dismissing it all as “ridiculous.” He uses the same cliche to explain it away as does the Key West Police Department: “There is voilence everywhere.” What has happened is enough to “shatter faith in essential human goodness,” as Williams himself once put it, but he has insisted on a brave front, as if through “enduring the devil, he will earn, if nothing else, its respect.”
London-based sales company Protagonist and Nordic outfit Helsinki Filmi have unveiled the first teaser of Dome Karukoski’s anticipated “Tom of Finland,” a biopic about groundbreaking Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen aka. Tom of Finland.
A pioneering figure in late 20th-century gay culture, Laaksonen faced oppression and homophobia during his youth and found escapism through art. His most famous homoerotic drawings depicted stylized, over-muscled masculine bodies dressed in leather.
Over the course of four decades, Laaksonen produced some 3500 illustrations.
Laaksonen’s drawings of bikers and leathermen capitalized on the leather and denim outfits which differentiated those men from mainstream culture and suggested they were untamed, physical, and self-empowered.
“Touko Laaksonen lived in a time when the laws and norms of the society tried to deny him the right to be himself. His story is an indication how a man can change the world with only the artists’ tools as ammunition,” Karukoski has said.
“It’s impossible to overstate the impact Tom’s work has had on the image and self-image of gay men all over the world. He created the archetypes that now form an integral part of the iconography of popular culture, both gay and straight,” Aleksi Bardy, producer and partner at Helsinki-filmi, told Variety when announcing the project.
Currently in the final days of editing, “Tom of Finland” will be theatrically released in February 2017.
In 1964 in the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, Egyptian archaeologist Ahmed Moussa discovered a series of tombs with rock-cut passages in the escarpment facing the causeway that lead to the pyramid of Unas. Chief Inspector Mounir Basta reported crawling on his hands and knees through the passages, entering one of the Old Kingdom tombs discovered burial chambers of Khnumhotepand Niankhkhnum servants and royal confidants at the Palace of King Niuserre during the Fifth Dynasty of Egyptian pharaohs and are believed to be the first recorded same-sex couple in recorded history
The main portrait of the ‘boys’ in the tomb show them nose to nose in a close embrace, a clone of the portrait style used in other Egyptian tomb art of the era to showcase male-female married couples and the hieroglyphs in the tomb have their names are strung together in a blessings that translates as “joined in life and joined in death.”
May 5, 1913 – Actor Tyrone Power was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Power led a busy bisexual life in Hollywood and was involved with several men during his career, among them composer Lorenz Hart (lyricist of the Rodgers & Hart song writing team) and fellow actor Cesar Romero. Power was liked and admired by men and women alike. Powell’s group of gay friends included director George Cukor and actors Clifton Webb, Lon McCallister (and his lover William Eythe), Cary Grant, Reginald Gardner, Van Johnson and bi-sexual billionaire Howard Hughes. Books and articles written about Power relate that the great gay love of Power’s life was a lowly technician at 20th Century Fox
May 6, 1856 – Sigmund Freud the founder of psychoanalysis and the discoverer of the
unconscious is born is in the North Moravian city of Freiberg (present-day PYíbor, in the Czech Republic). In his lifetime, Freud published 24 books and 123 articles containing some 90 specifically Freudian concepts that form the core of his theory. According to Freud, bisexuality is the actual psychical basis of heterosexuality and homosexuality, for both constitute compromise formations based on the narrowing of sexual choice
During 1933-1945 over 50,000 men were sentenced for the crime of homosexuality in Nazi Germany. Most of the men served their time in regular prisons, but an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 were sent to concentration camps. All prisoners within the camps wore marks of various colors and shapes on their uniforms to allow the guards to identify them by category. Homosexual prisoners. Over 75% of those interned “Pink Triangle” homosexuals died in the concentration camps.
May 7, 1840 – Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky is born in Votinsk, Russia. Assailed by many modern critics as better suited to writing for film than creating serious music, A popular conspiracy theory is that Tchaikovsky he was forced to commit suicide by Russian authorities rather than be exposed in a sex scandal involving a member of the Imperial family. The biographical works by Alexander Poznansky have attempted to rescue Tchaikovsky from such sensational scandal. The facts are that Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky died in 1893, a victim of a cholera epidemic that swept the city.
May 7, 1996 – The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) authored by Georgia Representative Bob Barr, is introduced to Congress . The bill prompted by the Hawaii Supreme Court’s ruling in the 1993 case Baehr v. Lewin that the state must show a compelling interest in prohibiting same-sex marriage. The fear was that Hawaii or another state legalize same-sex marriage would force the federal government recognize marriages that take place in those jurisdictions.
All Republicans in the House, except for Representative Steven Gunderson of Wisconsin, who had been outed on the floor of the House of Representatives by homophobic Congressman Bob Dornan of California in 1994, either voted for passage of DOMA or abstained. All 67 representatives who opposed the bill were Democrats except for Representative Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an Independent.
President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law at midnight on September 20, 1996 and to this day has never apologized to the LGBT community for signing it or using it as a platform for his re-election the next term.
May 8, 1920 – Iconic artist Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen) who created some of the most indelible (and erotic) images of twentieth-century gay life that has fueled the fantasies of generations of gay men is born in the village of Kaarina, Finland.
Laaksonen who worked in advertising, became a member of the Helsinki bohemian set, but avoided the small gay subculture because it was dominated by flamboyantly effeminate homosexuals. In 1956 Laaksonen submitted his drawings to the American bodybuilding magazine Physique Pictorial. The editor was delighted with the work and featured Laaksonen’s drawing of a lumberjack on the cover of the magazine’s Spring 1957 issue.
At a time when an action as simple as going to a gay bar could mean a night in jail for homosexuals, the openness and visibility of Tom’s depictions were especially shocking.
Placed in parks, forests, locker rooms, bars, and prison cells, Tom’s men seem to wander an array of secluded public spaces but usually not far from small groups of interested onlookers. Their denim bound erections, bursting buttons, and turned up short-sleeves can barely conceal the irrepressible optimism of a gay liberation that was yet to come.
In 1979, with his friend and business manager Durk Dehner, Laaksonen founded the Tom of Finland Company, which led in 1986 to the creation of the Tom of Finland Foundation, which is the official archive of Tom’s work and a collection of gay male erotic art.
Tom of Findland passed away in 1991 but his art lives on.
May 9, 1970 – Mark Bingham, San Francisco businessman and rugby enthusiast is born, Bingham helps lead and participates in the attempt to retake control of United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11, 2001 which crashes in a field in Pennsylvania before reaching a terrorists target on a day that changed America forever is born
On September 11, 2001 Bingham was the last passenger to board his flight in Newark. What we know about subsequent events comes from cockpit recordings and passengers’ calls to loved ones.
Bingham leaves this life as a true american gay hero.
May 10, 320 BC – Theocritus is born in Syracuse. In the heritage of homosexual literature, ancient Greece holds a unique place. Here was a society relatively hospitable to the love of boys and youths, and, on occasion, to love between older men, in which poetry and prose that celebrated
such affections formed a significant part of its culture. Theocritusdeveloped the verse form known as the pastoral, a stylized and artful form usually about shepherds or cowherds who sing of love and friendship and were highly homoerotic.
May 11, 1739 and 1755 – The Ladies of Llangollen – Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby celebrate joint birthdays and shared their lives for a half century. Both Irish aristocrats, they rain from their native Ireland to live in Wales together. The subject of several excellent books, they seem to have impressed their neighbors as well as London high society.”