A Portland Company Is Trying to Make the Internet Most Hospitable for the Queer Community

What’s .gay? “It’s a domain, just like .com or .edu or .org, but way more fabulous,” says Logan Lynn.

A Portland Thorns fan celebrates Pride. (Corri Goates)

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

The internet just got gayer.

After a yearslong process, the domain extension ".gay" is available for registration, thanks to the efforts of Portland-based internet registry Top Level Design.

What does that mean, exactly?

"It's a domain, just like .com or .edu or .org, but way more fabulous," says Logan Lynn, the company's PR director.

More directly, it allows greater online visibility for LGBTQ+ organizations, brands and individuals—early adopters include George Takei, Grindr and, naturally, the writer Roxane Gay—while also providing better safeguards against harassment. The .gay rights protections policy gives users a clear guide on making sites queer-friendly, while outlining behavior that gets would-be trolls banned from misusing the extension.

"Because we're going to be able to prove it's actually possible that the internet doesn't have to be a garbage fire for LGBTQ+ people for business to be good," Lynn says, "we're going to be able to apply pressure to the rest of the domain industry to make change."

But Lynn adds that it's also about bolstering the community. Top Level Design pledges to give 20% of all new .gay domain registry fees to two LGBTQ+ organizations, currently GLAAD and CenterLink. Nearly $75,000 has been raised, including $40,000 from registered trademark holders' early access in February 2020. Also, anyone making queer resources avalable online can apply for a free domain.

Lynn recognizes terms like "gay," "queer," and "LGBTQ+" have evolved since the .gay project first began over a decade ago. He hopes the dialogue generates other queer-friendly URLs.

"Whether you see .gay representing you or not, we're committed to .gay's existence benefiting you," Lynn says. "We're very into the idea that choice is good, and the more online spaces the better, the more LGBTQ+ domains the better."

See more Distant Voices interviews here.

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