The Internet finally has a unique domain and online space for gay and LGBTQ-friendly content. We talk to Ray King, CEO of Top Level Design, which is the registry for .gay.
1. What prompted you to consider applying for .gay as a top-level domain?
My interest in the domain industry is driven by a passion for creativity, connection, and the power of collaboration. Throughout the development process, we pursued a vision for a safer internet that stands against hate and provides a welcoming, inclusive space for all LGBTQ people.
2. It’s been a long journey. Did you think it was going to take this long and what were some of the expected or unexpected hurdles along the way?
The approval process took longer than expected and just as we were getting ready to launch, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything! The May 2020 launch timing was pushed back to September, and we considered what we could do immediately to help LGBTQ people struggling under the additional burdens created by the pandemic.
We decided to donate our official, limited allotment of pre-launch .gay activations to LGBTQ organizations, individuals, and small businesses fostering digital Pride during the pandemic, giving them free, early access to their .gay domain name.
We partnered with LGBTQ rights pioneer and celebrity George Takei, who shared this opportunity with his millions of followers. Many of our .gay Featured Sites were activated through this outreach, including nonprofit organizations (Pittsburgh.gay), community groups (TheQueensGuard.gay), and small businesses (Coffee.gay, TheFitOG.gay, Fundraising.gay).
3. Congrats on the launch! What has been the uptake and feedback like so far since the launch?
To celebrate the launch, we partnered with renowned LGBTQ content creators Two Penguins Productions to create a web series called The Library which explores concepts important to LGBTQ people like Pride, coming out, gender… Each episode is just a few minutes, so they are a perfect, bite-sized way to learn about important topics. Gay and straight people love The Library, and we’re already in pre-production on season two!
By far, the most gratifying feedback about the launch has come from within diverse LGBTQ communities. Seeing people from all across the spectrum create .gay sites is the best feedback we could ever hope to receive. We’re so excited to watch as more .gay domain names are registered and more .gay websites come online every day.
4. Why do you think it’s important for .gay to have a presence in the online space? What do you hope to see happen in this space?
We want .gay to provide real benefits to LGBTQ communities. We’re working hard to ensure that .gay remains a hate-free zone for LGBTQ people and their allies, and we hope that our online presence compels other tech companies to consider their impact and inspire them to do better.
We want our presence to have a positive impact in the physical world as well. That’s why we are donating 20% of every new .gay registration to LGBTQ nonprofits. Currently, our beneficiaries are GLAAD, which supports positive LGBTQ representation in media, and CenterLink, which supports LGBTQ community centers across the United States and around the world.
5. Tell us more about .gay Rights Protections.
The .gay Rights Protections Policy makes .gay a safer online space for LGBTQ people by prohibiting abuse and harassment. We investigate reports of .gay sites being used inappropriately, and we block and ban sites that violate our policies. This policy goes above and beyond the industry standards — the current norm is for tech providers to take no action against hate on their platforms unless compelled by a court order. We have removed those barriers and are able to take swift action to help keep LGBTQ people safe on .gay domains
6. What do you think of asia.gay?
As an Asian American, I am extremely impressed with asia.gay. You are making vitally important information accessible in so many Asian languages, and I’m proud that .gay’s platform can help facilitate asia.gay’s mission!