Rhode Island Special Education teacher Nikos Giannopoulos received this year's "Teacher of the Year" award.
To celebrate, he was invited to the White House to take a photo with the President, and he used the opportunity to express his support for the LGBTQ community by taking a "fierce pose" next to Trump and Melania.
As the Washington Post reports, Giannopoulos "wore a rainbow pin on his lapel, a ring through his nose and a gold anchor around his neck." He also posed with a black lace fan to celebrate the joy and freedom of gender non-conformity.
While the accessories are certainly not a sign of sexual preference or gender identity, it was important for the teacher to come to the photo shoot dressed as he does normally:
"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."
The importance of visibility
While his look drew attention from the White House, President Trump was apparently open minded about it. "He said I had good style," Nikos explains.
Nikos felt it was essential that he be himself on this special occasion to give visibility to the LGBTQ community who is now faced with a government who has already revoked the rights of transgender students, removed the LGBTQ page from the White House website, and recruited an extremely conservative cabinet.
As Nikos explained in his Facebook post:
"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."
The Washington Post reported that the White House photographer initially told Giannopoulos not to take his fan with him, but when the teacher directly asked Trump if he could pose with it, the President said yes.
While the teacher would have liked to speak directly with Trump about his thoughts on LGBTQ rights, it's clear he managed to pass a message with this photo opportunity. One small victory for the LGBTQ community.