Setting a Higher Bar: Our .gay Commitment Is an Industry-First

By Ray King
Ray King

Eight years ago, we made the decision to apply for ".gay" with encouragement from Clyde, my gay brother-in-law, among other passionate members of my family. Although we lost him recently, his memory has only increased our determination to see it through. I know Clyde would be proud of our vision for .gay, and all of the planning and community engagement that has gone into making sure we get this right.

While new domain extensions such as .gay are being introduced every year — adding more meaning and opportunity to the domain name system — through .gay we are creating a historic, industry-first approach that will change the way people think about domain names. Unlike many extensions, which are functional in nature, we will be providing a distinctive, digital space devoted to connecting and celebrating LGBTQ communities, while making an unprecedented commitment to strengthening them as well.

What is more valuable than using this opportunity to give global populations a more meaningful online experience? That said, we don't assume that there's any single way to represent the gay experience. Before launching .gay, it was imperative for us to learn from a variety of LGBTQ individuals, their allies as well as the wider population.

Our main objective for conducting this research was two-fold: capture as many perspectives as possible (including non-allies); and determine perceptions around the availability of .gay and its purpose.

We've been heartened to learn that 61% of LGBTQ community members would be more likely to use a .gay site because of the value they see for their communities. Additionally, we learned how more than half of those surveyed believe that .gay sites could create a better online experience and change freedom of self-expression for the better.

We see clear alignment between this feedback and the intent of domain expansion. We know that if we respond to the clear optimism for a thoughtful and culturally responsive .gay, that we will galvanize support across the community. To see who we spoke with and how else they responded, see our Audience Perceptions Summary.

While .gay is operationally similar to other domain extensions, our domain is the first of its kind — in addition to creating a completely new medium for LGBTQ visibility, we are donating 20% of all new registration revenue (not just profit) to support LGBTQ nonprofit partners. This year, we're proud to share that GLAAD and CenterLink will be our inaugural beneficiaries.

We chose CenterLink, an umbrella organization for over 250 LGBTQ centers across the US and around the world, because of their efforts to provide safe physical spaces that liberate and empower these at-risk communities. This aligns with our mission to create safe online spaces and increased visibility for LGBTQ people. We are equally honored to be partnering with GLAAD, whose preeminent legacy and continued work are rooted in fighting against misrepresentation and hate in the media. The GLAAD MediaGuide is core to our marketing and policies, ensuring that all .gay registrars will fairly and accurately represent LGBTQ people.

We know that we will not be able to single-handedly turn the Internet into a hate-free zone, but that does not mean we will accept the status quo, which is to do nothing short of a court order. While we are optimistic that the proud branding and sheer existence of .gay will keep hate away, we are prepared for when the haters arrive.

We created the ".gay Rights Protections” to establish this domain as a gay-friendly internet space. This policy exists to ban harassment, hate-speech and anti-LGBTQ content, as well as provide specific remedies for domains that intentionally use .gay to malign or harm LGBTQ individuals or groups. While this may put us out on a limb, it's a duty that we do not take lightly, as we continue to engage with other LGBTQ stakeholders to responsively enact this policy in order to create safer spaces online.

.gay is open to all — it's a virtual Pride flag that honors decades of history and progress, while inspiring an inclusive, welcoming future for all. .gay is a space for businesses, organizations and individuals¬†to¬†converge and stand together for something bigger. With each domain registered, we have the unique opportunity to use our platform to celebrate and grow the vibrancy of the gay Internet, which is lively, therapeutic, entertaining, and vital. Join us!

By Ray King, CEO at Top Level Design, LLC

Related topics: Domain Names, Registry Services, New TLDs

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