The actor who played School of Rock’s sassy child stylist has opened up about the homophobic abuse he received after the hit musical comedy’s release.
Brian Falduto, best known for his scene-stealing turn as Billy ‘Fancy Pants’ in the 2004 Jack Black-starring film, says his turn as the camp character lead to him being labelled gay by his peers and left him unwilling to accept his sexuality as he entered adolescence.
Speaking to Gay Stars News, the singer and former child actor admitted that School of Rock’s legacy left a lasting impression on his teenage years.
“I was very quickly labeled ‘the gay kid from School of Rock‘ once the movie came out both among peers at the time and on a wide scale. It was a tough thing to be labeled at such a young age because for starters, I really barely knew what being gay really meant,” Brian said.
“All I knew about it was from the context I was hearing it in and in the fifth grade, growing up in a fairly conservative area 12 years ago, it definitely had a negative connotation.”
Explaining that his peers’ reaction to the role prevented him from coming to terms with his identity for years to come, he continued: “Being called gay by a group of fifth grade boys was embarrassing.
“Everyone’s just entering puberty, figuring stuff out, just getting in touch with their hormones, and I’d already been told what I am before getting a chance to decide.”
Brian didn’t come out until his final year of college, almost a decade after the film’s release – but says that despite the hardship he suffered after School of Rock, he wouldn’t change a thing about his journey to self-acceptance.
“This rejection of being gay was embedded in me very early on in a deep area of my brain, but I don’t regret anything,” he said.
“I love that my journey was this because I feel I was meant to have this past with an LGBTQ struggle because now that I’m able to look at everything more clearly, I’m so proud of how full circle I’ve come – I feel I’m now my truest self.
“And I love that I was able to be Billy in School of Rock with such unhindered confidence at a young age because I’ve heard such lovely stories from people and how they related to it.
“If my life had been a breeze after the movie, I don’t think I would value my role in the movie or my role in the LGBTQ community nearly as much as I now do.”