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Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.jpg
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.jpg

Rhode Island's State Teacher of the Year sent a bold but 'silent' message to Trump


On Friday, a photo taken from inside the Oval Office featuring President Trump and first lady Melania Trump went viral--seeing more than 2,300 likes and nearly a thousand shares. The photo struck a chord with so many--not because of the photograph's framing or Melania's dress--but because of an ordinary man named Nikos Giannopoulos, Rhode Island's teacher of the year. 

Donning attire such as a blue jacket, a black lace fan, and a nose ring, Giannopoulos delivered a bold message to the Trump administration without uttering any words.

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.jpg

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

To the naked eye, Giannopoulos' stylistic choices simply-remained eclectic. But, in a late lengthy April Facebook posting, the newly-awarded teacher highlighted his meticulous planning. 

"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.

The secondary inclusion teacher from Beacon Charter High School for the Arts continued, "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."

Giannopoulos elaborated to explain the finite details of his interaction with President Trump, which, he admitted he "did not know what to expect." He did note, however, that "the man seated at the desk" read scripted remarks and did not rise to present the prestigious National Teacher of the Year award to the female recipient. The awardee wasn't permitted to speak like in years past.

He added that, should he have been able to speak with the president, he would have said: 

 "...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."

Giannopoulos ended his Facebook post on a positive note--expressing gratuity to his "National Teacher of the Year 2017" family.

"Your kindness and support have emboldened me and my sense of purpose in this role. There is so much I could say about our time together this week, but I know I don’t have to because you all feel it too. I am so proud of us, the work we have done, and the work we have yet to accomplish."

"We are a wily bunch, but we are in control of our own narrative and we will always do things our own way. We, as teachers, are the ones who will shape the future of this country. Knowing you all, I am confident that future will be a bright one!"

READ | Nikos Giannopoulos' entire Facebook tribute. 

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