I’m from Phoenix, Arizona. I’ve lived here my whole life. My family is from the Philadelphia area. Basically, there is not a drop of “Southern” in me.
Some, especially those from home, might think that my new usage of the word “y’all” is reflective of going to college in the south. That’s where they’re half right. Yes, I’ve adopted the word “y’all” since going to college in the south. But the “southern” thing really has nothing to do with it. The real reason I’ve adopted the word “y’all” into my vocabulary is because I went to college and “got radical” (this is my favorite way to describe how much more aware of cultural issues I've become, including but not limited to LGBTQA things and feminist issues, and how much more vigilant I've become in my fight against it all).
It’s important to me that I’m living my life in a way which is consistent with my ethics. I don’t want to just talk about supporting gender neutral initiatives. It’s not enough for me to sign a petition in favor of gender neutral housing. I want to support gender neutrality with my everyday actions. So I say y'all. It’s a feminist thing. It’s an LGBTQA thing.
Now, I’m not perfect. I know I use gendered language in other ways and I know I continue to say “you guys.” I can’t unprogram and reprogram myself just by wanting to. It’s a work in progress, and I invite y'all to join me.