Photo by Elizabeth Miranda.

Hi, I’m Addie Sartino. I’m the lead singer of the indie-alt band (un)known as The Greeting Committee. I’m a performer, writer, daughter, sister, friend, feminist, businesswoman, no-bullshitter, and member of the LGBTQ+ community. My sexuality made the bottom of the list not because it is a hidden part of who I am, but because it is not all I am, nor is it at the forefront of who I am. I have so much more to offer than who I choose to kiss.

Ridiculous as it sounds, I’ve refrained from using the word “hey” ever since I watched (500) Days of Summer six years ago. There’s a point in the movie when the leading woman, Summer, seems uninterested in the leading man, Tom. As Tom’s friends try offering potential explanations, one asks, “Did she say hey instead of ‘hi’? Because you know that means she’s a lesbian, right?” Because a woman can’t be uninterested in a man unless she’s gay, right? Hm. That theory doesn’t check out for a number of reasons, but we won’t get into all of them right now. The point is, closeted, 14-year-old me totally thought my cover was blown from saying “hey” all those years. The point is, I’ve never wanted to be defined in the brief amount of time an introduction takes. Fast forward to age 20, and while I sometimes still catch myself guarding my sexuality, I have also come a long way in the ways I wear my pride.

As the frontwoman of a band, there are times when all eyes are on me. Because of this, I have been given many opportunities and experiences—all new, all rewarding, and all difficult to varying degrees. My favorite, however, has been the chance to become a role model, someone worth looking up to. It’s not something I take lightly. I’m psychologically an only child turned oldest child. This makes me Type A, and it also makes me a leader, another facet of my identity I don’t take lightly. To me, being a role model means showing those who look to you a place of safety, acceptance, growth, and accountability. I do this through my words, music, and actions. This can be challenging at times, as I am human, and with that comes flaws and mistakes. Note: There’s a lot of them. But at times, flaws and mistakes are the actions that show my fans that growth and accountability are imperative in being someone admirable. It’s not the spotlight that scares me. It’s blowing my chance to be the kind of leader people deserve.

On top of being the frontwoman of a band, I’m a queer frontwoman. This throws me into yet another subcategory, but an awesome one. This is where my ideals of a good role model come in. At least once a week, someone messages me looking for advice on their sexuality. It astounds me. How lucky am I that I get to help someone who’s in the same position I was in just five years ago? Many of the messages articulate the same confusions: “What am I? Who am I? How do I categorize myself? What if I don’t identify with a label?” All of these questions are what got me to the realization of what I stand for. My sexuality is not who I am. I have so much more to offer than who I choose to kiss.

The pressure of sexual identity can feel so heavy because our society highlights it so boldly. From an evolutionary standpoint, we’re essentially programmed to categorize ourselves and others. When questioning your sexuality, there’s a sense of panic: “If I am not who I thought I was, then who am I?” Stand firm in who you do know you are outside of who you love, and feel the weight on your shoulders become lighter. Others may present limitations and labels, but no one can put you in a box if you don’t put yourself in one—this bit of advice applies to all aspects of life. Don’t let the fear of others’ judgments dictate your comfort with yourself or your sexuality. I personally do not identify strongly with one particular label. It took me years to look at myself with love and say, “That is OK. You are enough. Your heart needs no boundary.” And the only real reason I could say this to myself was because I established who I am and who I want to be in other areas of my life.

My rainbow flag is not dull just because I don’t wear it as a cape every day. It seems there’s a mold in the LGBTQ+ community that some feel pushed into. As if you can’t be proud unless you are loud. This is untrue and, frankly, unfair. I am in love with a girl who I can’t get enough of, and I scream it from the rooftops—but only the rooftops I choose. Just as she chooses her own rooftops to scream from (and, boy, am I lucky it’s my name being yelled). This doesn’t reflect how much we love each other. Just as it doesn’t reflect our pride in our sexuality. Remember: Your voice, your choice. My goal is to show others that they should be confident in ways that make them comfortable.

So, you’re a trans woman. You’re bisexual. You’re questioning. You’re gay. You’re asexual. You’re non-binary. You’re a fighter. You’re a son. You’re a brother. You’re a poet. You’re a scientist. You’re a photographer. You’re an athlete. You’re an activist. You’re a movie fanatic. You can quote every episode of Friends and you know every word to “Hey Ya!” by Outkast. You’re brave. You’re loved. And you have so much more to offer than who you choose to kiss. You have so much more to offer than who you choose to kiss. ♦