Durk Dehner and his friend Tom of Finland founded the Tom of Finland Company in 1979, and in 1984 they established the Tom of Finland Foundation. Dehner, along with administrators and volunteers, maintains the craftsman home that houses the foundation.
Dehner was raised in Alberta, Canada.
He began visiting public areas, such as department store bathrooms, to view sexual situations as early as nine years old, and had his first sexual encounter at eleven with an eighteen-year-old male. Despite the age of his first partner, Dehner did not consider himself abused. Instead, he stated that he sought and enjoyed sex with a variety of people throughout his youth.
At the age of thirteen his parents gave him permission to begin practicing Transcendental Meditation. This daily meditation practice led Dehner to the belief that the solution to his “painful experience of self doubt” was to devote his life to other people. This was the beginning of his philosophical exploration and spiritual awakening.
He fathered a son at age sixteen with his then-girlfriend. Dehner recalled his parents being concerned, but non-judgmental about the situation. Dehner had multiple partners of both sexes and various ages throughout his youth. He and his friends would also gather for love ins, consisting of groups as large as fifteen people. While his parents did stop these activities, Dehner recalls that they were not judgmental of them.
Dehner was inducted into the Leather Hall of Fame in 2017.
He also received a Leather to Leather Award in 2017.