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This Teacher of the Year Celebrated Gender Nonconformity in a Photo With President Trump

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A Rhode Island special education teacher decided to proudly support the LGBTQ community by striking a pose with a black fan while visiting President Donald Trump at the White House. 

Nikos Giannopoulos went to a meet and greet with the president in April after winning the Teacher of the Year award for the state of Rhode Island. When choosing an outfit, he decided to dress with "a little bit of flair," just like he usually does at the Beacon Charter High School for the Arts, he told The Washington Post. On that particular day, his ensemble included a nose ring, a gold anchor necklace to represent his home state and a rainbow lapel pin. Oh, and that famous black fan that added all sorts of personality to the best White House photo I've seen in a while. 

NBC reports that Giannopoulos brought the fan, which belongs to his partner, “to celebrate the joy and freedom of gender nonconformity.” 

“The entire day I was thinking about what it means to be in the White House and in the Oval Office,” Giannopoulos told the Post. “What it represents to be an openly gay person and a queer LGBT person in the White House.”

Giannopoulos said he was nervous about the reaction to bringing the fan. No one at security cared. And Trump even told him he loved the fan and had good style. But when it came time for the photo, staffers told him to put the fan away. “I just asked the president, ‘do you mind if I use the fan for the photo?’ he said 'absolutely go for it.’ So I popped my fan and did my pose,” Giannopoulos told NBC.

It's very fitting that Giannopoulos won the teacher of the year award in part because of his work with the gay-straight alliance. The photo, which pictures Giannopoulos tilting his head and fanning himself with the lace fan, is garnering more exposure for the LGBTQ community. The photo of Giannopoulos surfaced after he posted it on social media last week, just days after Los Angeles' Pride Parade turned into a #ResistMarch on June 11 to convince Trump to give the LGBTQ community more attention.

It's especially interesting for the photo to go viral during Trump's administration, since he is a president who has gone back and forth with the topic of LGBTQ rights. He raised concerns with Republican leadership when he accepted a gay pride flag at a Colorado rally. Yet Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, previously told The New York Times that “Every twitch we’ve seen from the administration has been anti-LGBT.”

Perhaps this fabulous photo op will help motivate Trump to support LGBTQ issues and policies. It truly is an iconic photo.


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