The upcoming release of the “.gay” web domain for LGBTI websites will be the topic of discussion at an international meeting in Durban later this month.

ICANN, the California-based non profit company that oversees international web domains, is considering competing bids by four companies to administer the new .gay web address.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals have always been early adopters when it comes to the Internet, instantly becoming a force in cyberspace since its birth.

That’s why the new .gay top level domain (TLD) is expected to be highly sought after by websites and companies servicing or appealing to LGBTI people around the world, and whoever gets to administer this domain could be sitting on a gold mine. 

The .gay domain is intended to be inclusive of the entire LGBTI community. COC, the oldest LGBTI group in the Netherlands, supports the word “gay” over other options like LGBT or LGBTI as it believes that it is “the most commonly and worldwide accepted term for a diverse group of people including homo- and bisexual men and women and transgender, intersexual and queer people plus their straight friends.”

One of the companies that is bidding for the rights to the domain will be in Durban this month to attend the 47th ICANN meeting, from 14 to 18 July.

New York-based Dotgay LLC says that it is different from other bidders in that it is community-based; supported by over 160 LGBTI organisations, representing over 230,000 businesses and seven million consumers. It is trying to build support from LGBTI communities around the world for its bid.

“This is a significant opportunity for the global (LGBTI) community to come together online,” says Scott Seitz, CEO of dotgay LLC. “By building a trusted domain that addresses safety, visibility and ways to support the community, .gay can create equity for the community that aligns with vendors, individuals, business and organisations.”

Seitz says dotgay LLC plans to place more control of the .gay domain in the hands of the community, as opposed to solely commercial interests, and will ensure that sites using the .gay domain are legitimately part of the LGBTI community.

“It’s more than just dollars, it is about access, advocacy and networking; helping people connect. Our team has developed a sustainable and supportive TLD management model that will become a template and stepping off point for other communities.”

The company plans to ensure that key landing pages will be held for use by the community as opposed to being auctioned off to the highest bidder.

“Our plan reserves the .gay TLD for authenticated community members, building the value of a .gay brand,” says Seitz. “We are not simply looking to sell space on the Internet, we are looking to protect the interests of the global community, create healthy conversation, and through visibility gain equality.”

Dotgay LLC will be hosting a townhall meeting on Tuesday, July 16 at the KZNSA Gallery in Durban to discuss the impact and opportunities of the .gay domain for the LGBTI community. The evening will begin with a short presentation and will be followed by an open discussion and reception, with refreshments. (Click here for the Facebook event page.)

ICANN is expected to announce the winner of the .gay top level domain bid sometime this year.

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