Gay.com, LGBT ‘North Star’ Worth Millions, Donated to Charity

Precursor to Manhunt and Grindr will now become a community resource

Last Updated: August 3, 2017 @ 2:18 PM

Video chat company VS Media has given Gay.com, a domain valued at millions of dollars, to a charity that will use it to assist the LGBT community.

Gay.com was one of the top online gay personals sites in the world when it debuted in 1997 — and good domain names were so plentiful that companies didn’t need to invent new words for them, like “Google.” But it has lost ground to sites like Manhunt and apps like Grindr.

Gay.com’s new owner, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, provides services including legal help, education, health, and housing, as well as advocacy.

Gay.com is in the process of transferring over to its new owner, and still has a NSFW page with adult content. But it will soon direct people to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s newly launched blog, Vanguard, said Jim Key, chief marketing officer at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

“Gay.com is still getting 200,000 visitors a month,” he told TheWrap. “For us, that’s huge.”

Los Angeles-based VS Media, best known for its live-cam site, Flirt4Free, acquired the Gay.com URL last year.

But the company said the domain wasn’t being used as well as it could have been, so VS reached out to five top LGBT charities and asked them to come up with a proposal detailing how they would use the site to support the LGBT community.

“The Los Angeles LGBT Center provides services for more LGBT people than any other organization in the world,” said Flirt4Free Executive Vice President Brad Estes in a release. “I’m very happy to announce that the future of Gay.com will go on within their extraordinary organization.”

Key said VS Media appraised the site at $6.9 million before donating it.

“To have this become a property of an LGBT organization is incredibly gratifying and rewarding,” Key said. “The timing was perfect for us because we just launched a new blog focusing on the untold stories of our work and the people we know.”

Bob Witeck, founder of Witeck Communications, a leading D.C.-based gay consulting firm, told TheWrap that landing the name Gay.com in the early internet boom gave the site a huge boost.

“Getting a one-word address gave Gay.com a giant head-start. It created a North Star for gay people globally,” he said. “At that time, getting those kinds of brands launched was like the Oklahoma land rush, but on the Internet.”

Gay.com was previously owned by PlanetOut Inc. and Here Media Inc.