Clicking around on Twitter (my personal account, not my SFW one), I stumbled across this today.
Which is how I found out that there’s a new domain in town – .gay https://www.ohhey.gay/
It’s an interesting concept as it’s a movement, not just a domain. .gay describes itself as creating ‘a completely new medium for LGBTQ visibility, positivity and support’ and ‘the first domain to fund LGBTQ causes with every domain purchased.’ It certainly stands up on that promise, as .gay is donating 20% from all new registration revenue (not just profit) to benefit LGBTQ non-profit groups.
In terms of brand believability, it doesn’t get much better than this. In a year that’s been largely Zoom and doom for so many, .gay is an uplifting new arrival. It not quite cut-the-ribbon new. .gay made the domain available to registered trademark holders from February this year. But it seems to have thrown its doors fully open over the past month.
This is a domain that’s ‘open to all’, with the mission of creating ‘a distinctive digital space that connects and celebrates LGBTQ communities in a way everyone can support.’ It’s a space for businesses, organisations and individuals, so it’s going to be interesting to see which brands believe that .gay is an opportunity.
Brands on .gay so far
A select few brands are already using this new domain, and these are showcased on a dedicated page. Grindr is the one I was expecting to see. There are other dating apps too, but it’s not all about hook ups/romance. GoDaddy is there. And so is Composely – a brand offering content creation. (Calvin Klein’s .gay link sent me to an error page.)
Grindr has made the effort to do something with their .gay domain.
Composely’s .gay homepage has a nod to the domain, but one click more and you’re into the main .ly site and all the .gayness vanishes.
The other brands just link straight through to their main site. And that feels a bit disappointing…not the ‘connection and celebration of community’ that .gay seems to be hoping for. But maybe this is because it’s very early days, and no one quite knows what to do with this space yet. I can see many brands wanting to be associated with what .gay stands for. The obvious headscratchers for brands will be ‘Do we need another domain? What can we do with it that’s meaningful?’ Those questions need strong, clear answers.
If brands that aren’t intrinsically LGBTQ-focused just grab a .gay address as a tick-box exercise, there’s a risk that they’ll alienate the very community they’re hoping to connect with. There is a certain sarcastic vitriol reserved for brands that think waving a Pride flag once a year counts as LGBTQ support. Any brands wanting to capitalise on .gay to connect with LGBTQ consumers will need authenticity and stamina.
We’ve all witnessed the disgraceful failure of Facebook and other platforms to do anything meaningful about ‘problematic’ content and behaviour on their sites. By contrast, .gay acknowledges that, although ‘they can’t promise to police the internet,’ they are prepared to do all they can to combat problems.
‘We have gone above and beyond industry standards and created a .gay Rights Protections Policy that discourages homophobic, anti-LGBTQ usage and provides specific, enforceable remedies for domains that intentionally use .gay to malign or harm LGBTQ individuals or groups. The policy also bans recognized hate groups from using .gay domains.’
So, .gay is determined to start from a position of responsibility, ensuring it stands apart from the “don’t give a f***” attitude of Facebook and others. And that stance makes quite a statement. Time will tell how much effort is required to keep .gay the safe space it’s intended to be, but at least the people in charge care.
The .gay brand itself
The ohhey.gay site is a masterclass in sustained positivity throughout the copy. It’s deeply considered and well-written. And there’s quite a lot of copy because there’s a lot to say, and they haven’t shied away from that. You really do feel like you know this brand by the time you’ve roamed around ohhey.gay. And a visit to The Library lets you hear real voices and opinions from the community – a nice touch that brings the vibe of .gay to life.
It’ll be interesting to watch the evolution of this brand and domain, and the community that builds on it.
As .gay says, ‘Our greatest hope is that everyone will feel safe, supported, and celebrated for who they are, and who they love.’ That’s a great place to start.