WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rhode Island’s “Teacher of the Year” lit up the internet when he posted a picture of himself with President Donald Trump.
Nikos Giannopoulos describes his style as “visibly queer.”
His picture day ensemble included a rainbow pin on his lapel and a black lace fan. He admitted he did “flair it up” a bit to bring attention to LGBT issues.
He said President Trump complimented him, and said he had “good style.” When an aide asked him to put away his fan for the photo shoot, President Trump said he could keep it.
“So the fan, it came from Venice actually. It was one of my, it was a souvenir that my husband brought back from a trip to, to Venice and, you know, he let it leave, he left it around the house for, for a long time and I eventually just sort of acquired it and added it to my repertoire of campy accessories,” Giannopoulos said.
The special education teacher won the “Teacher of the Year” award largely for his work with the gay-straight alliance in his school.
“I’m an openly queer person and my entire life I haven’t really fit in with, with the standard narrative of what it means to express your gender as a male. You know, I’ve been visibly gay my entire life. There’s just no hiding it. Though my mannerisms, the way I speak, my fashion sense, it’s something that has always made me stand out and for a long time I really tried to suppress that. You know, people would criticize me, they would call me names, they would really tell me that that’s not how I’m supposed to present myself as a male and over the years I’ve gotten so much more comfortable with, with what it means to be an openly gay male and that, you know, I do express my gender in different ways than your typical male, potentially, but that’s not a bad thing. That’s what makes me unique. That’s what makes me special and that’s, you know, something that my students love me for so, I, you know, I feel, you know totally privileged to be able to express myself openly and authentically,” he said.