The launch of the .GAY Top Level Domain (TLD), initially scheduled for October 2019 but postponed, will be kicking off with two Sunrise periods for trade mark holders commencing in February and running until 6 May 2020.

The Registry for .GAY, Top Level Design, has stated that:

"For LGBTQ individuals, organizations, businesses and their allies, .gay will serve as a virtual Pride flag and inclusive badge of honor. From personal artist profiles to Fortune 500 companies, everyone is welcome in the .gay family."

The Registry states on its website that a "Start Date" Sunrise period (a Sunrise as defined by ICANN and the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH)) for trade mark holders will begin on 10 February 2020 and end on 31 March. A second, "Sunrise II", that will broaden acceptable marks beyond the TMCH, is planned from 6 April 2020 to 6 May 2020. Both Sunrise periods will be subject to a Sunrise Dispute Resolution Policy.

After the Sunrise periods, a week-long "Early Access Period", where some registrars will offer .GAY domain names for an additional fee, will begin on 11 May 2020. Every day, that fee will be reduced "like a reverse auction". The Registry expects "highly valued and sought-after names" to be snapped up during this week.

The general availability period will then commence on 20 May, when all available .GAY domain names will be offered on a first-come first-served basis.

.GAY domain names will only be available via "registrar partners" rather than directly via the Registry and the Registry notes that some of these partners are already taking "expressions of interest" or "pre-orders".

According to the Registry:

.gay proudly signals support of LGBTQ people, causes, and businesses. It represents a historic step forward, increases visibility, and its launch results in more LGBTQ-friendly space.

A 20% donation of the revenue from every new domain registration will go to organisations such as GLAAD and CenterLink, both of which support the LGBTQ community.

There will also be a ".gay Rights Protection" policy, pursuant to which the Registry will accept reports of any content associated with .GAY domain names that is harmful or incites hatred towards LGBTQ people and in turn be able to take the appropriate action, including suspending, placing on server-hold, revoking, or cancelling registrations at its sole discretion.

Top Level Design summarises the significance of the launch of the .GAY TLD nicely in its blog:

Imagine for a moment how unique and historic this development is: can you imagine a .gay being introduced during the .com boom of the 90s, during the era of "Don't ask, Don't tell"? It's easy to forget, especially in liberal America, exactly how far we've come.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.