Photographed at the Oval Office in April, Giannopoulos, who teaches 11th and 12th graders at Beacon Charter High School for the Arts in Woonsocket, was voted Rhode Island’s Teacher of the Year.
Giannopoulos posted the photo to his Facebook page on Thursday, and it has been shared thousands of times on social media.
He said he wore the pin “to represent my gratitude for the LGBTQ community” and brought the fan “to celebrate the joy and freedom of gender nonconformity.”
Giannopoulos added: “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.”
Trump and his wife Melania met with Teacher of the Year winners on April 26 at their traditional White House visit.
Speaking to the Washington Post, Giannopoulos said he had been asked to put the fan away by an aide, but that Trump said he didn’t mind having it in the picture.
Giannopoulos said: “I was visibly queer in the Oval Office and no one can take that away from me.”
This month supporters of LGBT rights took parts in marches and rallies across the US, embittered by several actions of Trump’s administration – including the rollback of federal guidance advising school districts to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice.
The activists also complain that Trump, although he campaigned as a potential ally of gays and lesbians, has appointed numerous foes of LGBT-rights advances to high-level positions.
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