We gave our main podcast series a rest as the pandemic took hold and we launched a new one, aimed at supporting the community at large and helping us adjust to a changed world. That podcast is a weekly video series and you can find it at TheLockIn.ie.
Now The Blacknight Podcast is back and we’re delighted to kick off the new series with Ray King, CEO of Top Level Design, the company behind the new .GAY top-level domain which launched in general availability last month.
Click on the player below to play the podcast, or download it here: 18:41; 11MB; MP3.
With hundreds of domain extensions in Blacknight’s portfolio, we don’t tend to make a big deal of each and every launch. But .GAY is different – and so is the approach taken in establishing it as a resource for the gay community worldwide. As Ray explains, it’s a matter of personal conviction.
“My late brother-in-law, Clyde, was on our founding team, and he had always felt that, for all the wonderfulness of the Internet as a place where the gay community goes to build relationships and express themselves and be seen, and be a place for genuine connection … also there lies quite a bit of prejudice, hate and discrimination. And we believe that .GAY could be something special, something that would be a safe space where gay people can really celebrate and connect online, without the fear of getting lost in the more general Internet. So we’re pretty passionate about building this new hate-free zone and I think that .GAY gives us that opportunity.”
It’s a policy that is built-in to the terms and conditions of registration.
“We put the Gay Rights Protection Programme in place, and what that means is that we have asked all our registrar partners, including [Blacknight], to make sure that when people register a .GAY name, they know that if they put up any kind of content that would be harmful to the LGBTQ community in the way of hate, or bullying, harrassment – that sort of thing- then we’re going to take those sites down.”
It’s an approach that has seen .GAY win broad approval, not just from the LGBTQ community, but from businesses and brands who want to express their solidarity. Just over a month since general availability, the new domain extension is going well.
“We’ve got over, I think, 5500 or so (probably a little bit more by now) domains registered and that’s a little bit less than a month out, and we’ve also quite a few premium names registered.”
.GAY is a business, of course, but Ray sees its mission in broader terms.
“We’re super excited to have put out a series of very short 2 to 4-minute videos and you can see them on the library tab on OhHey.gay, and the idea here is to jump into some of the topics we feel are important, not only for the LGBTQ community, but also for allies who want to understand more. We’ve already put out five episodes. The first one is called ‘Is sexuality hardwired or a spectrum’ … the second is ‘What does the word “gay” mean to you?’ … and in each case we have ten people in the community speak, and it’s really interesting because, a lot of these questions there aren’t black or white answers to, and I’m just really proud of it … Our goal here is to really try and be educational, because we feel that is an important pillar to supporting the community.”
Another important element of .GAY’s community credentials is a financial commitment to LGBTQ causes.
“We’re giving 20% of new registration revenue to two amazing organisations. The first is Centerlink. They are kind of an aggregator or hub connecting a lot of LGBTQ spaces, physical spaces around the world and supporting folks that need a place to find local community, and their work is amazing. The other organisation is GLAAD, and GLAAD has for many, many years been re-writing the narrative around culture and attacking really tough issues that challenge the LGBTQ space, and we’ve learned so much from them. So these are the organisations that we’ve been donating to in 2020: over $120,000 so far already pledged and mostly donated and we’re very very proud of that. So every registration will result in a donation; that’s also one of the things that we ask our registrar partners to let their registrants know, because I think that, for most people registering a .GAY name, they are going to feel good about the fact that they are, in addition, providing additional support to the community.”
In addition to the donations from the .GAY registry, Blacknight has committed to support an Irish LGBTQ charity. For every .GAY name registered through Blacknight, we are donating €1 to BeLonG To Youth Services.