Community readies for dot-gay domain
by Matt Baume
The Internet is on the brink of a new land rush with the expected approval of a new alternative to dot-com, dot-edu, and dot-org. Ladies and gentlemen, meet dot-gay.
In a few years, consumers may have the opportunity to visit domains like lambdalegal.gay or peacheschrist.gay. It's thanks to an ambitious venture by a business called, fittingly, Dotgay, LLC.
The technical name for the suffix at the end of a site is "generic top-level domain," or gTLD. Currently, observers predict a huge wave of new gTLDs in the next few years, due to the adoption of new rules by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, which serves as a sort of post office for Internet traffic.
In a few years, we could see an explosion in new gTLDs, from dot-wine to dot-miami or dot-kids.
The dot-gay initiative is spearheaded by Scott Seitz, founder of LGBT marketing agency SPI Marketing. Should ICANN approve the application, Dotgay, LLC would exclusively manage that gTLD.
"We got into this process a year ago," Seitz told the Bay Area Reporter. "We wanted to make sure that dot-gay would be held by the gay community."
Seitz, who is gay, has focused on securing endorsements from stakeholders throughout the LGBT community. He is working closely with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to ensure that existing organizations and businesses have early access to their preferred domain names. Groups like the Human Rights Campaign and businesses like 440 Castro could register their sites before the public registration begins.
In cases where several separate parties might have a claim on a name – for example, the Eagle – Dotgay will hold an auction.
In addition, Dotgay will operate "index pages" for more generic terms, such as "pride.gay" and "communitycenter.gay." Those pages would then link to subdomains, such as "sf.pride.gay."
Although Dotgay would reserve the right to ban sites, Seitz plans to adopt a permissive stance. He cited ex-gay organizations or the Mormon Church as potential points of controversy, and said that he would allow anti-gay domains but might require that they display a warning or disclaimer.
Sixty-seven percent of Dotgay's profits will be donated to a foundation to benefit the LGBT community, Seitz said.
There are still numerous hurdles to the adoption of the new gTLDs, and dot-gay probably won't appear for at least another year. Public registration is likely to start in 2013.
Seitz estimated that it will cost his company about $2 million to pursue ICANN's approval. That's due in part to the anticipated expense for defending challenges to his company's application. For example, countries like the Vatican, Uganda, or Iran could appeal to ICANN to reject the gTLD. Responding to each challenge costs thousands of dollars, Seitz said.
Currently, Dotgay is offering sponsorship opportunities to companies on HRC's Corporate Equality Index. In exchange for a large donation, Dotgay will reserve one or more names for sponsors.
But once .gay launches publicly, sites will be available for prices comparable to dot-com and dot-org. Seitz hopes that having access to a dedicated gTLD will make consumers feel more comfortable.
"Hopefully, this will create some trust and security," he said.