WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - Rhode Island's 2017 teacher of the year Nikos Giannopoulos, posed for a picture with President Trump and First Lady, while holding a black lace fan, rainbow pride pin and anchor necklace.
The picture has gone viral. The teacher explained in a Facebook post the meaning behind his wardrobe choice for meeting.
Giannopoulos 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."
He explained that his bold print blue jacket and lace fan were to "celebrate the joy and freedom of gender nonconformity."
During a recent interview with NPR, he explained that the fan he brought belonged to his partner and was purchased as a souvenir on a trip to Venice, Italy. during that same interview, Giannopoulos said the president "loved" when he popped open the fan and complemented him on his style.
Before the picture was taken, he was asked to put his fan away, but before the image was captured he asked the president if he could pose with it and Trump agreed, according to Giannopoulos' NPR interview.
His necklace, was worn in honor of Rhode Island's state motto "hope," which Giannopoulos explained was inspired by Hebrews 6:19.
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure,” the bible verse states.
Giannopoulos said he did not have much of an opportunity to speak with the president.
But in his Facebook post, he states he would have like to explain why he feels proud to be an American.
"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," Giannopoulos said.
Giannopoulos is a special education teacher at the Beacon Charter High School for the Arts, in Rhode Island.
"I have a Department of Education and former Rhode Island Teachers of the Year who believed in me more than I believed in myself. They gifted me a platform to elevate the voices of those LGBTQ youth who must still fight against brutality inside and outside the classroom," Giannopoulos wrote.