June 19, 2017 at 11:41 am PDT | by Mariah Cooper
Gay teacher’s fan photo with Trump goes viral

A Rhode Island teacher’s LGBT pride-filled photo with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump has gone viral.

Nikos Giannopoulos, 29, was named the 2017 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year for his work as a special education teacher at the Beacon Charter High School for the Arts in Woonsocket, R.I. In April, he joined other state teachers on a trip to the White House to meet President Trump and the first lady.

In what appears to be a nod to Pride month, Giannopoulos shared the photo he took with the Trumps. Giannopoulos is seen holding a black, lace fan with his head cocked to the side. The teacher also proudly wore a rainbow pin on his jacket. Right next to him, the Trumps smile brightly at the camera.

Speaking with NPR, the teacher said the fan, which belongs to his partner, is an accessory he takes with him whenever he travels.

In a Facebook post from April, Giannopoulos explained why he decided to showcase LGBT pride for his photo with the president.

“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,” Giannopoulos writes. “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 also explains that he wished he could have spoken with Trump about the needs of the LGBT community.

“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,” Giannopoulos writes.

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