On being seen, featuring Lynne Wright
In the December of her storied career, Lynne Wright, WMS, received a potent affirmation of who she is and what she has achieved. Incidentally, the moment arrived as she stepped down from the stage at the 2022 Women’s Symposium as one of the six most recent inductees to the Raymond James Women of Distinction.
It was an exciting moment with lots of people celebrating her and her peers, then, briefly, from the crowd, a young advisor approached.
“She said she was not out and was not able to be out, but that my recognition was encouraging to her,” Wright said. “She said my success made her feel like she’s going to be OK, that it’s going to be OK.
“It was so meaningful to be told I made a difference in someone else’s life who I didn’t even know and never saw before. I was blown away.”
“That was huge, and it was amidst all the hubbub, the evening and the music was loud and there were lots of people around. I couldn’t engage in a conversation, but someone took the time and walked across the room and told me I made a difference in their life by coming out – something that should be so easy.”
Wright knows that it is often not. The early days of her career as a closeted lesbian – let alone a woman in finance in the 1980s – continually tested her perseverance.
“I experienced some significant harassment and threats from other financial advisors, and I came this close to quitting,” she said. “One guy threatened to beat me up because I was too masculine.”
She didn’t quit. She worked harder – harder than anyone – and went deeper into the closet, dressing to conform, trying to blend in with the other few women in the industry doing their damnedest to make it.
History is filled with innovators, thinkers and artists who were forced to hide their love from the world, but make no mistake, the closet offers safety, but it is a vampire, taking its due. Over time, the more she tried to create a believable facade, the less patience she came to have with it. Eventually, she decided she wanted to see what life was like in the sunshine.
She came out.
“My career didn’t spike after that, but I felt a sense of it really becoming a passion to succeed. At Raymond James, when I was out and able to feel safe being out, that was when my career really blossomed,” Wright said. “I finally felt like I belonged someplace.”
Others, too, men and women, were there to help along the way. She credits great mentors and believers for encouragement through the years – you don’t do it all by yourself, or despite someone else, she said.
Wright has worked to be that person for others. She is an advocate for women and LGBTQ people in the firm, and in her practice. Her close relationship with her clients has helped her have deep conversations about their LGBTQ loved ones. She has been an ambassador to other advisors whose clients’ families have questions.
Wright has been in practice for 37 years. Currently, she is guiding her practice, her clients and their families to capable hands as an advisor emeritus. She said she’s still processing the idea of retirement – she loves her work.
But as she moves onto her next adventure, she has reflected on a world that is better than the one she started in and recognizes that acceptance remains fragile. She knows the importance of having a place where you can be you. She knows it’s important, if you can be safe, to be seen.
“You never know who needs to see it.”
This piece was featured in Aspire Magazine, a biannual publication from the Women Financial Advisors Network. View the latest.
Follow along on social media with #RJWomen.