• Nikos Giannopoulos at the White House, with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. (Nikos Giannopoulos / Facebook.)
Nikos Giannopoulos won Rhode Island Teacher of the Year earlier in the 2017, and recently posted the official White House portrait of him with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump - spot his LGBTQ+ accessories.
By
Chloe Sargeant

19 Jun 2017 - 12:09 PM  UPDATED 19 Jun 2017 - 12:09 PM

In April, Nikos Giannopoulos won the title of Rhode Island's Teacher of the Year for 2017. 

As a part of the award ceremony, Giannopoulos went to the White House, and took official photos with the 45th President of the United States and the First Lady - Donald and Melania Trump. 

The high school teacher, who is a gay man and has been with his partner for ten years, decided to spice up his photo op with the President by adding in a range of accessories to highlight LGBTQ+ issues and show dedication to the queer community.

The image of Giannopoulos waving a lace fan and wearing a rainbow pin in the Oval Office next to a grinning Trump - who has been widely criticised for his lack of support and acknowledgement of LGBTQ+ Americans - has obviously gone viral since it was published.

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In a second Facebook post, the teacher explains his decision:

"I wore a rainbow pin to represent my gratitude for the LGBTQ community that has taught me to be proud, bold, and empowered by my identity - even when circumstances make that difficult. I wore a blue jacket with a bold print and carried a black lace fan to celebrate the joy and freedom of gender nonconformity."

Giannopoulos' second Facebook post also clearly outlines exactly what happened on the day of his visit to the White House. The award-winning teacher explains that Trump read 'prepared remarks' after the teachers arrived in the Oval Office, then went on to make "some comments about CEOs" and told them "which states he 'loved' based on the electoral votes he'd secured". 

"He did not rise from his seat to present the National Teacher of the Year with her much deserved award nor did he allow her to speak. We returned to the Roosevelt Room and one by one got a photo with him and his wife. After what amounted to a brief photo op, we were ushered out of the West Wing and back onto the streets of DC."

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Giannopoulos goes on to speak passionately of his dedication to LGBTQ youth at his school, and that he wished he'd been given the opportunity to speak about LGBTQ+ issues to the President:

"In previous years, state teachers of the year were given the opportunity to speak to the president for a few minutes each.

Had I been given the opportunity, I would have told him that the pride I feel as an American comes from my freedom to be open and honest about who I am and who I love.

I would have told him that queer lives matter and anti-LGBTQ policies have a body count.

Taking pride in queer identity means rejecting the shame imposed upon us by a harsh society.

It means opening yourself up to a lifetime of criticism and misunderstanding, but knowing that it’s worth it to be able to live authentically.

Each and every queer person has been confronted with cruelty in ways many cannot imagine - verbal and physical abuse from strangers, friends, & even family; politicians callously attacking on our right to love or merely exist in public spaces; legalised discrimination for daring to be who we are.

Brutality is a universal part of the queer experience.

As LGBTQ people, our identities are complex, but our needs are universal - to be loved, to be respected for who we are, and to be fully equal citizens of the United States of America."

You can read the full post from 2017 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year Nikos Giannopoulos below:

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