Nikos Giannopoulos and Donald Trump
Nikos Giannopoulos celebrates the LBTGQ community in a photo with Donald and Melania Trump Facebook / Nikos Giannopoulos

An award-winning school teacher used a photo opportunity with President Donald Trump to pay tribute to the LGBTQ community.

Rhode Island Teacher of the Year Nikos Giannopoulos, 29, was honoured for his achievement at the White House in April and got to have his photograph taken with the first couple in the Oval Office.

On Thursday (15 June), he uploaded that picture to Facebook and, unsurprisingly, it has been shared around the world.

Along with a few rainbow flag emojis, the caption simply read: "Rhode Island Teacher of the Year 2017 meets the 45th President of the United States. That's all."

In an interview with NPR, Giannopoulos said Trump complimented his fan and told him he had great style.

"I'm extremely campy and it's a popular prop of mine," said Giannopoulos.

"The fan represents self-acceptance and being unabashedly myself in a society that's not always ready to accept that."

He was originally told to put the fan down before the photo, but asked the president if he could pose with it, and Trump responded "Absolutely go for it".

"I have been visibly gay my entire life; I was more feminine than a lot of boys...And I got a lot of flak for it. As a boy, I think I internalised that and didn't embrace that part of me. Now, as an adult, I adjusted to my queer identity," he told NPR.

Giannopoulos regretted that he was not able to share a few words with the president, as has been customary for previous winners of 'Teacher of the Year'.

"I would have told him that queer lives matter and anti-LGBTQ policies have a body count," he added.

In January, the president removed a dedicated LGBT page from the White House website.

Giannopoulos also wore a necklace with an image of Rhode Island and motto that reads 'hope is the anchor of the soul'. He said: "It's a beautiful verse that is relevant for people of all faiths and is especially meaningful for minority groups. For anyone in a marginalised group, hope is the last thing you give up."

Giannopoulos paid tribute not only to the LBGTQ community but also to teachers up and down America: "The teaching profession has been the greatest thing that's ever happened to me," he said.

"I'm not the best teacher in my state...But I do care a lot about my students and they mean a whole lot to me."