Decades of harassment against the LGBT+ community have seen the word ‘pufta‘ become a rallying cry for homophobes across the island. But one local startup, Pufta Apparel, is working hard to change the narrative around the word, one tee at a time.
The bold brand will be selling a limited run of soft pastel t-shirts and caps embroidered with a sleek typeface of the word ‘PUFTA’.
Looking to shift the dynamics of the word’s use, Pufta Apparel wants the phrase to be seen as a badge of honour for everyone who grew stronger from having it used to tear them down in the past.
“It’s hard to divorce the difficult history of a word like that from its potentially-positive future,” Pufta CEO told Lovin Malta, “but growing stronger by adapting to the harsh nature of past treatment is one struggle LGBT+ people know all too well.”
The idea of reclaiming a negative word and turning it into a powerful unifier for a community is not a new one, and studies have shown it to be successful at destigmatising certain phrases. In the past ‘queer’ was used as an insult, and now it’s an all-inclusive umbrella term for the LGBT+ community.
With Pufta, the soft colours contrast the normally-harsh tone associated with the word, and are a clear sign that the LGBT+ community is ready to bite back against the word’s oppressive intention over the years, and take it back the way they’ve done with others like queer, queen and sissy.
And what about all those people who will see it as a chance to double down on their harassment because they’re seeing the word written plain as day across your chest?
“Wearing your pride through Pufta Apparel does not give others permission to use the word without understanding the full context in which you are celebrating it,” explains the CEO.
To further cement its commitment to the community, the gay-owned brand will be donating a portion of proceeds to different charities that work with the LGBT+ community in Malta.
“This year we’re happy to be supporting Malta Pride with our donations, an important event which celebrates and reminds us of the struggles, both past and present, our community faces.”
There’s a limited number of hats and tees produced in the company’s first run, so be sure to grab yours from puftagni.com
Photography: Gary Bugeja