…from somewhere over the Rainbow

Jordan Carter and Brent Carey from .nz have organised a Rainbow Drinks event at this week’s ICANN public meeting in Montreal, Canada. Here they explain why – and what the term means.

A few people have wanted to understand what lies behind the event scheduled alongside ICANN 66, an inaugural “Rainbow Drinks.” Here’s the background.

In New Zealand, the term “Rainbow” is often used as a catch all, inclusive of the diverse LGBTIQA+ communities. Rather than a complicated acronym, in our communities Rainbow has become something of a short hand. It summons up pride, diversity, openness and inclusion.

We have felt for a while that Rainbow networking may be of interest to some in the ICANN community, and so we’ve organised a get together on the evening of Tuesday 5 November to see what people think.

As two openly gay leaders in the New Zealand Internet community, we want to be visible, and in doing so, encourage new norms of acceptance. We want to celebrate being gay in the C suite!

We also know how much more connected people will feel navigating the ICANN communities if they know just one other gay person is with them among the ICANN community.

The event will provide a chance for people who support diverse participation in the ICANN system, or those who identify with or simply support Rainbow communities, to get together and spend some time networking.

The practical implications are, we think, positive for the ICANN environment in a few ways.

First, it’s a simple reality that people from Rainbow communities are participating in ICANN. Making that a bit more obvious will help people find some support if they need it from people who share this part of their identity. That’s to the good of us all.

Second, taking a community that cross-cuts ICANN’s deeply siloed structure can only be good. Jordan was a participant in the IANA stewardship transition and ICANN accountability processes. Brent is participating in the ccNSO’s PDP on retirements. Many of us who participate in cross-community work have found that a key gain for the wider ICANN system was that people worked with, or at least got to know, others from outside their own silo. Bringing people together across ICANN lines can help build an ICANN that works better.

Third, by celebrating this aspect of ICANN’s diversity, it helps to show that the ICANN system is inclusive of a wide range of points of view. LGBTQI+ communities bring unique perspectives that can inform those developing products, services, and tech policy, including in the domain name system.

We’ll see how next Tuesday goes. It’s a low key affair but worthy of some attention.

Montréal seems like the perfect launch city. It’s a place with one of the largest gay villages in a country that was one of the first to legalise marriage equality. North America also happens to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising this year that marked the beginning of the modern gay rights movement.  

We claim no mandate or mana in starting this thing. It just felt like something we’d like to be doing, and so here it is – the start of something.

Part of the conversation at the event, we expect, will be whether there is an appetite to make this a regular occasion at ICANN. We look forward to meeting supporters or those who identify with the Rainbow community on 5 November, and seeing where this goes next.

Jordan Carter is Chief Executive of InternetNZ, the .nz ccTLD manager. Brent Carey is the Domain Name Commissioner, responsible for the market self-regulatory functions in .nz.