After going up for pre-order last week, the top-level domain .gay has launched to the public. The launch comes some 50 years after the first Pride march, and is a bid for inclusion and diversity online. It is also hoping to mark out a safer online space for queer and trans folks online.
"Now more than ever, LGBTQ visibility, community connection, and the distribution of health information is paramount. We’re proud to amplify representation and foster digital Pride by broadly sharing .gay with the world,” Ray King, Top Level Design CEO, who launched .gay, said in a statement. “We’ve already seen incredible interest and support from Fortune 100 companies and small businesses to LGBTQ brands and public figures, with hundreds of .gay domain names registered during our pre-launch phases.” Grindr, CenterLink, the Billie Jean King Leadership Institute, and Adam Lambert's Feel Something Foundation already have registered .gay domains.
But this has been a long, multi-year process and the team is varied. Of those who've been working on the project is Logan Lynn, a songwriter, television personality, and filmmaker. In addition to appearing in The Library, which is a webseries launching alongside .gay the hopes to pose as "a record of all the bits of queer life or education that are at risk of being lost or misinterpreted," Lynn is the Director of Public Relations for .gay.
Here, we talk to Lynn about his involvement in the project, how they will fight against hate, and whether we can expect a .bi or .trans soon.
How did you come to this project?
I have a long history of being a publicly out, shamelessly gay person — in my life, music, the media — and I have experienced massive amounts of really gross, painful, homophobic abuse and trolling as a result. This began really early on in my career and has continued for the better part of the past two decades. All of these years of navigating hate and bigotry online informed this belief I carry around that the internet doesn’t have to be a terrible, dangerous, disgusting place for LGBTQ+ people. When the folks at .gay brought the idea of partnering on the .gay launch my way, I was all-in.
Can you explain a little more about those experiences that led up to this?
Yeah. That experience I just described with the trolls really came to a head in 2018. Most of the major tech platforms had, up to that point, never intervened or done anything to help me or my team with any of this stuff, and their business models essentially had them all functioning as anti-gay cesspools — torture factories for LGBTQ+ people. I kind-of hit a breaking point with everything and, instead of feeling sorry for myself or shrinking away, decided to do everything I could in my power to help push change forward. Some very famous friends who were connected at different tech platforms and I worked together to apply a bunch of public pressure to investors, other creators on those platforms, and everybody’s lawyers, to force change on the policy level — and we had some really big wins. Many of the absolute worst offenders changed their policies as a result of that big fight, and in that moment it kinda just clicked that the internet actually doesn’t have to be terrible and that this big dream I’d carried around for years is totally possible.
When the Reddit trolls decided to organize and take me down, I had a choice: Either retreat and let them win, or fight back and hold my ground as an out, gay man who deserves to be in the world without navigating constant, dehumanizing, deeply traumatizing, humiliation. I went loud instead. I figured, even if I ended up burning my whole career down, at least I might take them all with me into the fire and the world would be better off. So my team reached out to reporters, I personally sent DMs to other public LGBTQ+ people for advice, and just began making noise in collaboration with others who had been on the receiving end of this abuse. We made very loud, very focused, gay noise -- and my story was picked up all over, including in People Magazine. At that point, Reddit was the place where these awful people were gathering, planning their attacks, and cyberstalking my every move, so my attention was directed specifically at changing Reddit’s policies.
We were doing everything from calling them out on social around the clock, to sending letters to their investors, to having other celebrities reach out on my behalf to folks who were connected at the top...and all of that eventually did lead to Reddit officially banning this group of trolls and changing their policies against abuse and bullying, platform-wide. That experience of seeing the dumpster fire of the internet be transformed was really powerful, and it was the proof I needed that LGBTQ+ people don’t actually have to be tortured for business to be good. In fact, the opposite is true.
This is a huge part of why I was so happy to join forces with .gay – it gave me a vehicle to build on my earlier efforts — and as happy endings to gay trolling nightmares go, this one has been really beautiful. .gay is an important moment for me personally and really feels like the next step for LGBTQ+ representation online. It’s well past time for our communities to stand up and demand to be happy, healthy, celebrated, and loved, wherever we are in the world, and online is no exception. I vote we take up as much gay space as we can. Be the gay you want to see in the world, ya know?
As a part of the domain GLAAD has come up with a set of guidelines that helped you form your anti-abuse and harassment policies. How will those be enforced?
I like to say that no registrant is too big to fail on .gay. As a registry, we can’t monitor all content across .gay sites but will swiftly investigate complaints and take action against anyone who violates this policy. All .gay sites need to be a good steward to LGBTQ+ people, or they can’t sit with us. We have the right to shut them down legally, per our policies. My experience — and the experience of so many other LGBTQ+ people who have lived with online abuse and harassment — is that the tech industry often has policies in place that they point to, but do not enforce without a court order. Have you ever tried to get a court order to remove a post from the internet? It’s very hard and expensive. Now let’s say you’re presented with needing to get 28,000 of them? Game over. Trolls win, and the LGBTQ+ person who is being attacked by the hoard of trolls has no recourse. We decided that sucks and that there is no better time than right now to do what we can with the piece of the internet we do actually control, to make things better for people like me.
Will this be the first top-level domain monitored in this way?
Yes – the unique part of launching a domain is that at this nascent stage, we have this amazing, unprecedented opportunity to establish industry-first standards. For .gay it was imperative from day one to ensure that every site .gay registered will be LGBTQ-friendly and hate-free. Our stance is simple, yet radical for the internet: We love gay people and if you don’t, then get the hell outta here.
What role have you been playing and what role will you continue to play?
My role has been focused on shaping and growing the .gay community, as well as the brand. From making sure we’re bringing .gay to life in the best way possible with the support of GLAAD and CenterLink, to connecting with early adopters to help get the word out, to helping bring partners to the table to help inform policy and strategy, I definitely think of myself as a connection point for .gay. I’ve also been behind the creation of .gay’s new web series, The Library, and the creative campaign you see rolling out on all of the .gay channels.
Along with supporting our nonprofit beneficiaries., I’m also really proud of our Community Resource Program, which makes .gay domains free and accessible for anyone looking to foster LGBTQ+ spaces and services online. I’m excited to watch the .gay community continue to grow and, you know, make the internet gay again!
Should we expect the other identities under the LGBTQ+ umbrella to receive their own or is this framed as a catchall?
We recognize that the .gay domain may not be for everyone, but it’s a microcosm of broader LGBTQ+ communities across the globe and we are proud to set new standards for the industry to follow. Our greatest hope with creating .gay, is that everyone will feel safe, supported, and celebrated for who they are, and who they love. We believe choice is empowering, and .gay supports people choosing the domains that most resonate with them. We hope that LGBTQ+ communities feel welcomed on .gay sites and feel good knowing that .gay exists for them and will always directly support LGBTQ+ people with every donation. Even if you don’t feel like .gay is a good fit for you, we are doing everything we can to ensure that .gay still benefits you.
I personally hope the whole world gets queered at some point, so I’m all for any way we can help push that agenda forward in real life and on the internet. With .gay specifically, we’re creating a dedicated, safer space for LGBTQ+ communities around the world, and the spirit behind .gay is that the platform is here for everyone, welcoming to everyone, and highlighting the depth and breadth of LGBTQ+ communities, in all of our diversity, with everything we put out as a brand. I love that we are already seeing so many inclusive, welcoming domains acting as a virtual Pride flag by way of their .gay names. It’s quite the signal! When I first started working with .gay, I was inspired by the historical weight of the word and that huge moment fifty years ago at the Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day march when our people shouted “Gay is Good!” as they marched together to stand up against persecution, bigotry, and hate. It’s that spirit and history that inspired us to create .gay. It’s 50 years later, and yep! Gay is good.