When people talk about a piece of digital media going "viral," this is precisely what they are talking about.
I am referring to the official White House photo that was taken the other day -- the kind of photo-op that presidents do day after day -- with Mr. and Mrs. Donald Trump and the Rhode Island Teacher of the Year for 2017, one Nikos Giannopoulos, a 29-year-old special education teacher at the Beacon Charter High School for the Arts.
It's one of those photos that takes a few minutes to unpack, because Giannopoulos packed in quite a few symbolic statements during his moment in the spotlight.
However, the professionals at National Public Radio were TOTALLY up to the task, in terms of asking the questions that legions of enquiring minds would want asked -- with one exception that will be of interest to GetReligion readers. Hold that thought.
First things first, as described by NPR -- there is the matter of the "sassy" teacher's "fabulous" delicate black lace fan.
The fan was actually my partner's. He bought it as a souvenir on a trip to Venice, but I found it about five years ago. Since then I've integrated it into my day-to-day life. I'm extremely campy, and it's a popular prop of mine. I've taken it with me all over the country whenever I go on vacation, so that's why I had it.
But ultimately, I have been visibly gay my entire life; I was more feminine than a lot of boys and I carried myself in a nontraditional gender expression. And I got a lot of flak for it. As a boy, I think I internalized that and didn't embrace that part of me. Now, as an adult, I adjusted to my queer identity. So the fan represents self-acceptance and being unabashedly myself in a society that's not always ready to accept that.
Trump praised the fan from the get go, according to Giannopoulos. When members of the White House team questioned whether the fan was an appropriate element in this kind of picture, the teacher asked the president what he thought. The result was an image straight out of a music video (nod to Madonna, of course).