Questions and Answers
.gay is a proposed domain space dedicated to the worldwide LGBT community. It would exist as a so-called "generic top-level domain" (gTLD). There are currently 22 gTLDs in operation, including .com, .mil, .gov, .info, .travel and .asia. They are generic in the sense that they refer to broad categories.
We've adopted .gay because as a practical matter, the word "gay" signifies the community as a whole, and because it can best accommodate all the different identities that comprise the community.
At this point, .gay is one of a number of proposed new gTLDs that are under consideration at ICANN, a non-for-profit public-benefit corporation that coordinates the Internet's domain name system (DNS). ICANN functions as a sort of referee and policy maker for the protocols that enable computers to connect to the Internet and recognize or link to one another. ICANN has its own staff and board of directors, which is ultimately responsible for making decisions. Supporting organizations and advisory committees originate ideas and proposals, and guide the process of evaluating policy changes.
Supporting the expansion of the Internet domain name space as a way to promote "greater innovation and choice," ICANN is developing a process for introducing new gTLDs.
If .gay becomes a reality, ICANN will enter into a contract with a company in the private sector to oversee all domains ending with .gay. Such a company is known as a registry. Sales of actual domain names ending in .gay would be handled through ICANN-accredited registrars. Registrars would pay a set per-domain fee to the registry that is under contract with ICANN to administer .gay.
The originator of the .gay gTLD proposal, dotgay LLC is a California corporation seeking to become the registry for .gay. Its objective is not only to operate the .gay domain space as a successful business with high ethical standards, but also to ensure tangible financial and strategic benefits for the community that will inhabit the space. The CEO and 90% owner of dotgay LLC is Scott Seitz, founder of SPI Marketing, a leading LGBT agency with over 14 years of service on behalf of corporate and not-for-profit clients. dotgay LLC has secured more than 110 endorsements, including from a number of prominent LGBT organizations represented at the United Nations.
The funds would be handled by a tax-exempt foundation operated separately from dotgay LLC. Evaluating the worthiness of various causes and making decisions about how to distribute funding would be in the hands of an independent board of directors, comprised of a diverse spectrum of recognized leaders from the global LGBT community.
To avoid potential conflicts of interest, it is essential that the directors and the foundation operate independently of dotgay LLC. Existing as a standalone entity, dotgay LLC would be focused solely on commercial and community development of .gay. This will facilitate transparency and accountability in the auditing of its financial statements.
dotgay LLC's principal, Scott Seitz, has an established track record in the LGBT business and non-profit communities. Scott has been listed in OUT100 and Instinct Men of the Year. His agency, SPI Marketing, in addition to handling campaigns for major brands such as ABSOLUT, facilitates connections to opinion leaders in the LGBT community and counsels clients seeking sponsorship opportunities with nonprofit advocacy and community organizations. In 2009, SPI received a GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Outstanding Advertising award for its work on behalf of ABSOLUT, considered the leading brand in the U.S. gay market.
For Scott, .gay is not just a "marketing platform" or a piece of real estate to be subdivided based solely on economic imperatives. He envisions .gay as an empowering space—a rallying point—that recognizes and celebrates diversity and is operated for the mutual benefit of LGBT constituents: the service and non-profit community, business community, advertisers and media, plus a diverse range of individuals and emerging community groups. Scott's reputation for integrity within the community is attested to by the organizations that have come forward to endorse dotgay LLC: ILGA, International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, National Center for Lesbian Rights, ILGA-Europe, Trans-Fuzja, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, Brazilian Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans Association, Human Rights Campaign and COC Nederland to name a few.
The ICANN board has begun the program for introducing new gTLDs and it will close on April 12, 2012. If a .gay gTLD is approved by ICANN, it would go live after 2012.
Members of the gay community would be able to register so-called "third-level" domains that aren't based on important keywords, for a price perhaps even less than that of .com domains. Under dotgay LLC's proposal, community domains such as legal.gay, travel.gay, marriage.gay and keywest.gay would be operated as communal information hubs and thus would not be sold to third-party registrants. Second-level domains, such as visitlondon.gay, could be subject to an auction process, as there are likely to be multiple interested parties. dotgay LLC is exploring options for handling second-level domains, including possible safeguards to ensure that such domains aren't exploited to the detriment of the LGBT community.
Non-profit LGBT client organizations would receive 67% of the profit dotgay LLC generates from the sale of .gay domain names through accredited registrars. In addition, dotgay LLC plans to develop .gay as a hub for community building—a common platform for enhancing the resources and visibility of the LGBT movement. Toward that end, dotgay LLC would retain ownership of key domains based on important generic keywords, such as hotels.gay, health.gay, marriage.gay and pride.gay. Kept out of the hands of opportunistic squatters and speculators, these domains would be developed as informational resources that would include directories of other relevant .gay domains.
As a vehicle for social entrepreneurship that advocates a community mandate in operating the .gay domain space, dotgay LLC views .gay as a banner or umbrella for bringing together the growing diversity of our own gay community. With specialized inclusive subdomains like lesbian.gay, transgender.gay, bisexual.gay, peopleofcolor.gay and intersex.gay, .gay will gather each of our groups in a way that solidifies our footstep and demonstrates our presence as one larger global community. As a community whose presence can be quantified and aggregated, we will all be in a better position to be understood and to create real change.