Rhode Island’s teacher of the year Nikos Giannopoulos wanted to send a message of pride to the LGBTQ community by appearing “visibly queer” in a photo with U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania in the Oval Office.
In a lengthy post on Facebook, the Greek American teacher speaks about his experience in April of visiting the White House and being photographed with the president and explains why he was dressed the way he was: “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. I wore an anchor necklace in honor of the State of Rhode Island.”
Had he be given the opportunity to speak to the president, Giannopoulos wrote that he would tell 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.”
“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,” he further wrote.
Giannopoulos teaches at the Beacon Charter High School for the Arts. He studied History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburg and French Language and Civilization at the Universite Rennes 2 Haute Bretagne.