Should there be a .gay Internet suffix?
Two for-profit groups are pushing for one. The Dot Gay Alliance (dotgay.org), out of New York City, is being led by a longtime gay activist. And dotGay (dotgay.com) is being spearheaded by a heterosexual German man in Riga, Latvia, who has incorporated a company in San Francisco.
In other words, there could be hotels.gay, provincetown.gay, match.gay and pride.gay Web sites. (Question: What would the popular Web site gay.com have as its .gay counterpart? Gay.gay? Gaydotcom.gay? Or does it not get a .gay counterpart?)
While both groups have left open the possibility of cooperating, they haven’t yet joined forces. Both groups say they plan on starting the application process with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, to create top-level domains, akin to .com, .edu, .org and .net.
Icann, which coordinates the Internet naming system, has encouraged the creation of other dot-whatever top-level domains (though only after an expensive application process that costs upwards of $400,000). Both groups will attend the Icann meeting in Seoul, South Korea, that is to start Monday.
The domain-registry business can be lucrative, potentially spinning off millions of dollars per year as each registered Internet site pays annual fees of $8 or so. While neither group is nonprofit, both say they plan on funneling those funds toward supporting gay causes. “This could be a significant source of funding for organizations fighting, doing very good, important work,” said Joe Dolce, founder and executive director of the Dot Gay Alliance, and a longtime gay activist.
Mr. Dolce said he got the idea for a .gay domain as a way to raise money when he was working with Minds and Machines, an Internet-domain consulting service that is helping with the creation of a .eco domain. He was intrigued when Al Gore, the former vice president, said he would support .eco only if half the proceeds from the registration went to environmental groups, and thought that model could be applied to gay causes as well.
Since June, he has been working with the parent company of Minds and Machines, which will provide the financial backing for the expensive application process. The plan is for 51 percent of the proceeds from domain registration to go to gay causes, he said.
“It’s a very novel way that doesn’t involve putting your hand out, doesn’t involve another benefit or charity function,” said Mr. Dolce, 52, who saw many of his friends die from AIDS in the 1980s. He added: “This is a community that has to sustain itself. There was very little help from the outside world, very little help from the government.”
The AIDS crisis galvanized the gay community, leading to the creation of groups like Gay Men’s Health Crisis and Act Up, both in New York. “I think New York has trained an entire generation of people to be socially conscious and be activist,” he said.
Among those is Paula Ettelbrick, a lawyer and longtime gay activist who is serving as a philanthropic adviser to the alliance. Both the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, and State Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell, both Manhattan Democrats and openly gay, have written letters to support the Dot Gay Alliance.
In contrast, the chief executive of dotGay, Alexander Schubert, does not appear to have substantial local support. He was born in Berlin but now lives in Riga. He said he planned to move to San Francisco, where dotGay was incorporated, after he gets his visa sorted out. Currently dotGay lists the address 799 Castro Street, San Francisco, which is the office of his lawyer.
Mr. Schubert declined to say where he was getting his financing, but he noted that more than half of the proceeds — perhaps as much as two-thirds — would go to gay causes.
As to why he chose the Bay Area over, say, New York, he said: “I thought it was best done from San Francisco. San Francisco is the gay capital of the world.”
Mr. Schubert was the co-founder of a group which pushed for .berlin (which inspired the .nyc campaign here).
That experience made him think more broadly about domain names. “All these years, I thought about the perfect top-level domain. I came to the conclusion that it should be community like the gay community,” he said. “I am personally not gay. I am born and raised in Berlin, which is the gay capital of Europe.”
But Mr. Dolce was troubled by the fact that dotGay was founded by a man who was not gay. “If you are launching a purely for-profit venture called dotGay and you are heterosexual, then you are in a way continuing a legacy of straight people earning a lot of money off of gay people that has gone on,” he said. “I want to create a community which is run by the community and gives money back to the community.”
And why .gay and not say, .lgbt — a commonly used short-hand term for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender”? Mr. Dolce said one reason was that “gay” is an internationally recognized word, while the L.G.B.T. acronym differs across different languages. Also, he added, “gay is a nice three-letter word, which fits Internet naming convention.”
from The New York Times
Competing Groups Press For A ‘.Gay’ Internet Suffix
Should there be a .gay Internet suffix?