• Newsfeed
  • viral

Here’s How This Teacher of the Year Celebrated the LGBTQ Community in His Photo With Trump

3 minute read

When Rhode Island’s teacher of the year posted a photo of his April meeting with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania at the White House Oval Office Thursday, it quickly went viral.

The striking picture shows Nikos Giannopoulos holding a lacy fan and wearing a rainbow pin among other meaningful accessories. Giannopoulos says he picked strategic accessories in order to pay tribute to the LGBTQ community during the photo opportunity with Trump.

Giannopoulos posted the photo on Facebook where it scored 1,300 likes and 519 shares as of Friday afternoon.

The teacher explained why the look was so important to him in another viral post he shared in April, which included a group photo with other state teachers of the year and a painterly portrait in front of the White House.

“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,” he wrote.

He continued with a passionate message about his pride in queer identity:

“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 whose motto “Hope” was inspired by Hebrews 6:19 – “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” These words are as relevant now they were when our founding father Roger Williams was inspired by them over 350 years ago.”

According to Giannopoulos, he did not have the opportunity to speak with POTUS about policies affecting LGBTQ Americans during his visit as he’d hoped.

One of New England’s finest this year, he’s a Renaissance scholar of sorts. “Mr. G,” as he’s known to students, teaches algebra, chemistry and filmmaking in the inclusive co-teaching model that addresses students of all abilities including those with special needs, according to WPRO. For his extracurricular activity, he’s the Gay Straight Alliance coordinator.

He advocated for students who didn’t always fit in at a June ceremony where he accepted his award.

“This is for anybody who was ever anxious, anyone who ever struggled in math, for anybody who felt more comfortable in an art room than the gym, this is for you guys,” Giannopoulos said.

Below, see his posts about his White House visit.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com