Launch of .GAY – Our exclusive interview of the registry

In being accredited by the registry of the Top-Level Design, a company based in Portland Oregon, SafeBrands is very excited to be part of the historic launch of the dot GAY. That is why we decided to give voice to the Top-Level Design’s (great) team – who also manage the .DESIGN, .INK and .WIKI extensions – in order to explain why this new TLD launched from February 10th must be considered and deserves a special attention. Andrew Merriam, VP Business Development at Top Level Design “The .GAY Registry” was kind enough to answer to our questions.

Andrew Merriam, VP Business Development, Top Level Design

Top Level Design Registry

SafeBrands: we are a corporate domain name registrar specialized in online brand protection for corporate customers. Could you please tell us how the .GAY can be included in a positive way within the online brand strategy of a company?

Andrew Merriam : the .gay launch presents a historic opportunity for brands to add a new dimension to their role in LGBTQ advocacy and equality. It’s a virtual pride flag for everyone, from Fortune 500 companies to artists and individuals.

First, I must note that we at .gay are committed to doing things differently. This is important because it sets a basis for us and the community of users we will welcome, major brands included. We are donating 20% of all registration revenue, including corporate sunrise phases, to nonprofit beneficiary partners. We have also put together our unique “.gay Rights Protections” to ensure that we can take down any reported misuse of .gay domains for hateful, harassing, or anti-LGBTQ content.

We also found through our research that 61% of surveyed LGBTQ community members would be more likely to use a .gay domain because of the value they see for their communities, and a majority of those surveyed thought .gay would lead to improved freedom of expression and create a better online experience. Also consider data like that from Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer, showing that employees expect their CEOs to lead on social issues and consumers expect brands to be involved in social improvement.

The data reinforces the point that our unique and socially informed plans for .gay are wanted and necessary. In this way, we are opening a space where all LGBTQ individuals and businesses, as well as allied businesses and individuals, can have a distinct and meaningful online experience. A brand could use .gay for their diversity policies, their employee resource groups, their pride marketing, or indeed any content that speaks towards equality, advocacy, representation and pride.

SB : your registry made strong commitments toward the LGBTQ community especially in giving money to LGBTQ charities (GLAAD and CenterLink). Could you please explain precisely how it will work and tell us more about these two entities that may not be very well-known to the French public?

AM : We’re so happy to talk about this part of our business; it’s an exciting development that we think corresponds to this moment in history and the use of the internet. Businesses and individuals are looking to bring more meaning to their online action and we’re the only known domain extension that has developed charitable policies like this.

Functionally it’s very simple: every name registered results in a 20% donation from that revenue. This is NOT profit and this is not a donation of net proceeds. On trademark phases and premium names, the same 20% donation applies. Indeed, this is important because it means that those companies registering in .gay and those valuable keyword premium domain names are contributing that much more to important community causes.

GLAAD is well-known in the USA. It is a preeminent LGBTQ organization, which has tirelessly advocated for meaningful and fair representation in mainstream media. Their own Media Reference Guide and thought leadership have informed our plans, so it is exciting that we are able to work with them on this historic launch. CenterLink is doing vital, life-saving work. They are the umbrella organization for over 250 LGBTQ community centers around the USA, with international members as well. These centers provide physical safe spaces and important community connection to the those most at risk. We believe that our partnership and our plans with .gay means that registering and using a .gay domain name online not only results in digital visibility and safety, but physical safety as well.

SB : On May 20th the dot GAY will be available to everyone. In what way do you believe your extension will be an important step in helping the gay community to be more visible online?

AM : Our launch timing coincides intentionally with the 50th anniversary of the first Pride parade this year! On June 28th 1970, people took to the streets to commemorate the Stonewall Riots and take their movement out of the bars and proudly into the daylight, marching up 6th Avenue in New York City, for the world to see and recognize. The resulting coverage of this “Gay Liberation Day” was the first time much of the public would read or see the word “gay” in the media.

The internet has long been an important place for LGBTQ people. It’s provided a place for people to connect and be their true selves when the physical world was not welcoming. With that said, the internet has also been home to hate and social violence. It’s important not just for .gay to exist, to provide visibility and representation, but for .gay to develop as a unique and hate-free zone.

We understand that there is no single, all-encompassing LGBTQ experience, so it was imperative that we engage the community at-large and learn from a variety of lived experiences before launching .gay. We listened to our friends, family and colleagues, as well as surveyed individuals who self-identify as LGBTQ. Through this process, we learned that more than half of those survey see how .gay can strengthen these communites, improve the online experience, and promote freedom of self-expression for the better. You can read more about our survey in our “Audience Perceptions Report”.

SB : SafeBrands is wishing success to your team and the dot GAY. What else can we wish for you?

AM : you can act for us instead! Reach out to your local LGBTQ community and leaders and help us internationalize the .gay movement! This is a global launch, and we’re excited for the ways in which this historic and important opportunity will help us reach beyond our small team in Portland, USA! We hope to hear from any of your clients and readers about their own aspirations and vision for .gay and collaborate with them in the coming weeks and months .