Integrity is a strange concept to most.
Many know the word, even more use it, but few really know how to define their version of it.
Folks in Leather circles also tout integrity as one of the standard core principles, but really what does it mean?
I can’t profess to tell you what integrity will mean to everyone, but I can tell you what it means to me, and how it relates to my leather path.
Integrity for me, contains two parts – being honest, and having strong moral principles.
Honesty is a no brainer for me. I will admit in my distant past I was less than an honest person, and it cost me dearly. I used to surround myself with less than honest people, and so lies, deceit, and political games became my norm, couple that with the circles I ran in, the behaviors I indulged in, and the people who encouraged it, and it’s no wonder I hit bottom and bounced. I’ll get back to this later on, but I wanted to get this one out of the way for the time being.
Strong Moral Principles.
It hasn’t been an easy road to develop those, Just like my honesty, in my younger years I existed in a morally grey area, I lived a life that, in order to survive I continually compromised my morals to fit in, to make a living, and even just to feel like part of the people I chose to associate with. Cheating, lying and using people for my own ends was the norm.
I hit bottom, and disappeared, I had to reinvent myself because I didn’t really like the person I had become.
I won’t go into the proceeding years, but I will say I took a long hard look at my values, morals, and how far I would really go to protect the person I wanted to become.
So this brings us back to the two things I consider integral to Integrity. Honesty, and strong moral principles.
In my life I expect honesty from myself and others, I don’t word vomit everything to be honest or transparent, however if you ask me a question I will answer you truthfully – You might not like the answer but you’ll get it. I expect the same honesty from the people I choose to trust and let in. I also Do my utmost to be honest with my partners and family about needs, wants, desires. Honesty isn’t a part time thing, it’s all or nothing, in my mind it requires you to be comfortable with being a villian in many eyes, and strong enough to stand by your convictions.
Being of strong moral principle is a little more of an ephemeral thing. Everyone’s morals can and will be different, so I will speak from my own standpoint and beliefs.
I have a few core morals – conducting yourself ethically in relationships (ethical monogamy, and nonmonogamy), honesty, honor, transparency, and doing the right thing. There are MANY more, but these are some of the ones that spring to mind in regards to lifestyle context.
I tell my girl all most everything in regards to what is going on in my life, who messages, what we talked about etc etc…. The potential of new partners – play, sexual or otherwise is something that should be discussed on the ground floor in the interests of honesty and transparency. I also take the same stance with my girlfriend as much as able, and again to be transparent – less so in terms of scenes I may have, however I don’t hide them by any means. I also take a similar stance regarding friendships and acquaintances – If the information is relevant to them, I often share it, regardless of the outcome.
Doing the right thing is something that I think encompasses all of the above, however, Also the easiest to bend to fit your own world view. In my past I hurt a lot of people because my moral compass was quite literally broken as fuck. As I got older I vowed to try and do what was right, and it’s all I continue to try and do daily. It took a lot of work to get here, and I’ll be damned if I ever undo the work I’ve put into it.
Integrity is one of those core leather principles I hold dearly, and many profess to do so as well, some are genuine, and some like to think they are.
I really do try and surround myself with people who closely resemble and echo my thoughts on integrity and other Leather values, the trick is finding them and recognizing it in them. In my travels I have found many of those people and I am honored to call family, tribe, and love them as hard as I can.