A photo of a sassy Teacher of the Year posing with President Donald Trump and Melania is going viral.
The Rhode Island state Teacher of the Year, Nikos Giannopoulos, met the president on 29 April.
He wrote on Facebook: ‘For my trip to the White House, 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,’ he said.
In previous years, award recipients got to speak with the president, but this year was different.
Giannopoulos said he would have addressed LGBTI issues with the president.
He wrote: ‘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, and even family; politicians callously attacking on our right to love or merely exist in public spaces; legalized discrimination for daring to be who we are. Brutality is a universal part of the queer experience.
‘I am one of the fortunate ones.
‘I have been able to share the last ten years of my life with my partner who understands me better than anyone in the world. I have a mother who always allowed me to be myself, highlighting my best qualities, and building up my confidence as a shield to any bigotry I may encounter. I have a sister, brother, father, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law who have accepted, celebrated, and loved me unconditionally for my whole life. I have a chosen family of queer friends and loved ones with whom I have formed deep and supportive relationships that will last a lifetime,’ he wrote.
The sassy teacher said he was grateful for the opportunity to meet the president, but won’t necessarily remember the man sitting behind the table.
Instead, he’ll remember the hard-working teachers he was with, as well as the kids who inspire him everyday.
He continued: ‘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.’