My mama always told me, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." So I've been looking for a photo of President Trump that I could like. And here it is, with first lady Melania thrown in for good measure.
The gentleman on the left --- with the fan --- is Rhode Island's Teacher of the Year Nikos Giannopoulos. The official White House photo was taken during April when Giannopoulos and other teachers of the year from across the United States visited the White House for photo ops with the president. He received the photo last week and posted it online soon thereafter.
Giannopoulos, 29, who teaches juniors and seniors at Beacon Charter High School for the Arts in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, also wore a rainbow lapel 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.”
The fan, brought home as a souvenir of Venice by his partner, is a prop that he's used on other occasions.
When asked how the president reacted to the fan, Giannopoulos told National Public Radio: "Oh, he loved it! I popped it open when I walked into the office because I'm a very sassy person. And Trump complimented it right away. He said, 'I love the fan!' And he told me I had great style. Then, when I was ushered in for my private photo with the president and Melania I was told I should put it away. So I just folded it up and held it at my side. But when it came time for the photo, 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."
None of the teachers had a chance to actually address the president during their visit to the White House. But if he'd had the opportunity, Giannopoulos said he would have told Trump that “queer lives matter and anti-LGBTQ policies have a body count.” He also wanted to tell the president how the LGBTQ community is hurt by “politicians callously attacking our right to love or merely exist.”
"I just want to say that the teaching profession has been the greatest thing that's ever happened to me," Giannopoulos told NPR. "Every single day I go to the classroom energized and thrilled to be there and to have been elevated to represent all of the teachers in my state. I'm not the best teacher in my state. I'm not the most thoughtful planner. But I do care a lot about my students and they mean a whole lot to me."
Absolutely fabulous. Now where's my fan?