We Did It First: Five Ways Gay Culture Influenced “50 Shades Of Grey”

All across the country, randy theatergoers are flocking to their local suburban movie complexes to see the film adaptation of E.L. James’ internationally bestselling novel 50 Shades of Grey starring dreamboat Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson.

But what few fans of the book (and now movie) may realize is that even though 50 Shades of Grey features a young heterosexual couple, it’s actually a very gay-inspired story.

Scroll down for five ways in which gay culture has influenced what is sure to become the #1 movie at this week’s box office…


Folsom Street Fair

While suburban housewives across America have been getting all hot and bothered reading what many gay men would consider to be mild BDSM sex scenes at best, we’ve been publicly embracing hardcore kinky behavior since before 21-year-old Fifty Shades of Grey protagonist Anastasia Steele was even born.

San Francisco’s annual BDSM street fair has taken sex to the extreme for over 30 years, becoming the world’s largest leather event. For more than three decades, gay leather daddies and their man slaves have flogged, er, flocked to the heart of SOMA, a neighborhood once famous for it’s raunchy leather bars, to party with other like-minded sadomasochists.

George Michael‘s song “Father Figure”

In the book, 27-year-old Christian Grey becomes Anastasia’s father figure by impressing her with his boundless wealth, taking her for a ride on his private helicopter, and, of course, claiming her virginity. But what naive, young Ana doesn’t realize is that many of Grey’s slick moves are borrowed straight from George Michael’s “Father Figure” music video. Of course, how would she know this? “Father Figure” came out in 1988, when Ana was still just a twinkle in her biological daddy’s eye.

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The average lifespan of a gay relationship

50 Shades of Grey takes place over the course of a month, with Ana falling in love with Christian by week two and breaking it off with him by week four. Not to perpetuate stereotypes, but this is on par with the average lifespan of many gay relationships.


Gay sex clubs and bath houses

Audiences were shocked — shocked! — to read about Christian Grey’s “playroom” dedicated exclusively to housing all his fetish gear and other sex toys. But what many readers didn’t seem to realize is that gay men pretty much invented the idea of a “playroom” with sex clubs and bathhouses. (That’s right, Christian Grey has a room. We have whole houses.)

Bathhouses became a popular hangout for gay men in America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when homosexual acts were still illegal. By the 1950s, they were popping up all across the country, and by the late 1960s and early 1970s, many had become staple institutions within the gay community.


Gay pulp fiction

Before there was the internet, gay men got their rocks off by watching VHS porno tapes or paging through dirty magazines. And before that, they got their kicks from erotic pulp fiction.

Sexy dime-store novels featuring gay characters like All Shades of Gay, Locker Room LoversBeefcake Boys and Hollywood Homo helped pave the way for more mainstream erotica like Fifty Shades of Grey.

You’re welcome, E.L. James

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