Water. Shelter. Food. Survival concerns, the base of the well-known pyramidal hierarchy of needs. Self-actualization is considered the peak, the top of the structure.
However, I don’t think the hierarchy, the pyramid, is as stratified as all that. I think that it’s more like a geodesic structure where all the elements push and pull against each other, and that sort of dynamic tension is more true to our queer lives.
Consider identity development. Interrupted identity development leaves a person stuck in a non-integrated state. There are many different models of identity development for minority populations (and a few for the majority as well). Bi/multiracial development models differ significantly from standard racial minority models, because the challenges are different. What do I call myself, how do I fit in the multiple communities and roles that I belong in, how do I carve out a life where I can be authentic, be all of me, even if people who I identify partially with reject parts or all of me?
Because that’s a piece of bisexual identity development, too. When Straighty McStraighterson calls you a fag, he’s rejecting all of you on the terms that only what he sees as your homosexuality is salient to his view of your identity. When your high school or college GSA says you’re not welcome because you are not queer enough or if they immediately brand you as a straight ally and therefore deny your queer experiences and attractions, it is only important to them that you ain’t no Gold Star.
When part of you is rejected, all of you is rejected. If someone says to me, “You can be here as long as you don’t act like a fruit”, they aren’t welcoming part of me. It is with my whole self I’ll tell them to [redacted] themselves with a [redacted] until their [redacted] is [redacted].* If someone tells me that I can come to the queer event but no PDA with my wife because “we don’t need to see straight people kissing in our space”, then see above – because any kiss that I am a part of is by definition a queer kiss.
The research suggests, and people’s lived experiences bear out, the power of community. (Before someone starts screaming that ‘anecdote is not the singular of data’ please let me point out that there is such a thing as qualitative data, and I’m not claiming this is universal, just that it’s common enough to be instantly recognizable.) The stronger and more welcoming and supportive the community is, the more able an individual is to fully develop into themselves.
This is not nearly all I have to say on the subject, of course. Consider this a taste, and a promise of more.
* – one of the redacted words may or may not be “pineapple”. Maybe. Not going to say for sure.