Susan Strongman

Broadcasting reporter for the New Zealand Herald

The name Poof back in vogue at Ponsonby bar

A University of Auckland PhD student said he did not find the bar's name offensive. Photo / Sarah Ivey
A University of Auckland PhD student said he did not find the bar's name offensive. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Due to popular demand, a Ponsonby Rd bar has changed its name back to Poof, only months after complaints led its owner to drop the title.

The bar, which opened last year, changed its name to Pop in April, after owner Wayne Clark said he had received complaints - mainly from older members of the gay community - over the derogatory nature of the word "poof".

But the bar has now returned to its original name, with website GayNZ.com reporting "overwhelming" feedback in favour of the change.

University of Auckland PhD student James Burford said he did not find the bar's name offensive and there had been movement in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities to "reclaim" stigmatising words like "poof".

"Rather than accepting the negative meanings associated with them, these communities have instead given them new and positive connotations," he said.

"Words like queer, butch and poof can be taken back and worn as badges of uniqueness, community and pride."

However, it was reasonable some people who had experienced being abused and shamed using certain words might feel uncomfortable taking them back, he said, and there needed to be some dialogue about the reclamation of words like poof, queer and dyke - "in order to reduce the power of homophobes to hurt us".

"There is a vast difference between people inside a community calling each other poof with affection, and someone screaming it at me from a car on a Saturday night."

Associate professor Gary Barkhuizen, of the University of Auckland's School of Cultures, Languages and Linguistics, pointed out that "gay" was an example of a reclaimed word.

"Since 'Poof' was changed to 'Pop' and then back to 'Poof' the name has been reclaimed twice, so to speak, thus perhaps making an even stronger statement about its legitimacy as a name and identity marker for the owners and users of the bar."

- NZ Herald

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