A lot of people get invited to meet the president of the United States. It’s supposed to be quite an honor.
War heroes. Sporting champions. Top scientists.
Only, with President Donald Trump in office, some of these meetings are taking on a different complexion. It sure seems like a lot more people are skipping out on shaking the president’s hand than in previous years.
For instance, New England Patriots player Alan Branch said, in no uncertain terms, that he had no interest in meeting Trump after his team’s Super Bowl victory because of the way the president has spoken about women in the past.
Boycotting the meeting is a good way to make your voice heard.
It’s not the only way.
Nikos Giannopoulos, a teacher from Rhode Island, was recently named his state’s Teacher of the Year. His prize? A meeting with the president.
Giannopoulos just happens to be, in addition to a great teacher, a gay man.
This puts him at odds with the president regarding, well, Giannopoulous’ very identity. It’s no secret that the Trump administration is full of opponents of equal rights for LGBTQ people, and his first months in office have been disastrous for the community.
The president himself has yet to even acknowledge June as LGBTQ Pride Month (even though it’s now more than halfway over).
You’d think Giannopoulous might refuse the meeting on principle. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity to start a different kind of conversation.
During his photo op with the president and first lady, Giannopoulous sported a rainbow pin and a black lace fan in the greatest and least-subtle photobomb ever.
Giannopolous’ description of the meeting is jam-packed with shade toward Trump, whom he calls, “the man at the desk.”
But he wasn’t there to pick a fight. He was there to send a message.
“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,” Giannopoulos wrote on Facebook. “I wore a blue jacket with a bold print and carried a black lace fan to celebrate the joy and freedom of gender nonconformity.”
He writes that the meeting was exceptionally — almost rudely — brief. Just a photo op, then he and other teachers were ushered away.
He didn’t get a chance to speak privately with Trump, but if he had, he knew exactly what he’d say:
“Had I been given the opportunity, 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.”
Giannopoulous’ poignant photo has gone viral, smack-dab in the middle of Pride Month, racking up thousands of shares and comments.
When you’re a championship level pro-athlete and you skip a meeting with the president, it makes news. But when you’re a high school teacher from the Northeast soaking up what’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime trip inside the White House, you have to think outside the box.
Giannopoulous’ hilarious and unapologetically flamboyant photo hits hard, and it’s forcing everyone who sees it to confront the realities of a discriminatory administration.
It just goes to show, there many different ways to resist.