UPDATE (October 3, 2019): Tom of Finland's page is back up. Instagram has yet to release a comment on what happened, but our friends at Out have published this piece explaining that the letter from Instagram is a fake.
The Tom of Finland Foundation says it was sent a curt letter from Instagram on Thursday morning informing it of the permanent removal of its account, @tomoffinlandfoundation.
“We have permanently deleted your account from our servers; because your account violated our community guidelines,” reads the letter that was given to The Advocate.
“We warned you about this, but you continued to violate community guidelines. Such accounts are never reactivated.
While Instagram has not confirmed the authenticity of the letter, the account was indeed taken down. A visit to the former site of the account showed the page wasn’t available.
And the timing of the account's disappearance is suspicious, says the foundation's vice president, S.R. Sharp. The foundation is currently in the midst of its 24th annual Tom of Finland art and culture festival taking place at the private home of the artist.
The theme this year: censorship.
"We are currently showing artists at the house that have had their [Instagram] accounts deactivated," Sharp told The Advocate. "I think a lot more people are aware of us. There's a lot more pepper attacking us the more visible we become."
"And the more we become a target."
Sharp says the foundation has been in contact with Instagram and is working to resolve the issues that arose, but he still hasn't been given a concrete explanation of what happened.
Instagram has become notorious over the past year for censoring LGBTQ content through its use of "shadow banning," and many reports have found that LGBTQ folks are unfairly targeted.
The Tom of Finland Foundation has been devoted for more than 25 years to protecting, preserving, and promoting erotic art.
It’s named after queer artist Touko Valio Laaksonen, who under the name Tom of Finland produced homoerotic art consumed around the world until his death in 1991. His artwork was at the center of the 1962 U.S. Supreme Court case MANual Enterprises v. Day, which determined that photographs of nude men were not inherently obscene.
Moreover, Laaksonen’s art helped define a generation of queer work during an era of sexual repression.
Now the foundation fights censorship not by the government but — apparently — by a social media giant that allows plenty of erotic artwork to remain untouched.
The Advocate has requested comment from Instagram and Facebook, and will update here when one is received.
This story is developing...