Watch: Brian Falduto Brought His Authentic Self to Playing a Gay Teen in 'School of Rock,' Which Scared Him Into the Closet

Sunday June 13, 2021

In the film "School of Rock," Brian Falduto played Billy, or "Fancy Pants," and was quickly labeled the "gay kid" from the hit film. "Falduto played sassy, snappy-dressing prep-school-student-turned-costume-designer Billy in the 2003 smash," wrote the New York Post.

On the podcast The Cooper and Anthony Show, Falduto explained that he didn't come out until his senior year at college, nearly a decade after the film was made. "I was in so much denial. Think about it, I was in the fifth grade when this movie came out, and I got called gay. And then someone told me that that's not cool. so I just was like, 'Okay, I'm not gay.' And then, that message came to me so often that my denial had to (also) come so often. So I was denying it before I even got a notion of the idea of what it was. By the time I realized I was potentially gay, I was already homophobic towards myself essentially. And then in college, I met a ton of gay people and I was like, this is awesome and they're great; but it still wasn't an option for me. I was so far in denial."

He continued, explaining how this experience has influenced his career decision to become a life coach. "I think that's one of the reasons I got into life coaching in my older age a little bit too is because like it's so fascinating to me how the mind works and how it locks into these different conditionings and the behavior patterns just because of one thing you told yourself 14 years ago. Yeah, I mean, it's like really crazy."

What made Billy such an interesting character was how Falduto's own personality was incorporated into the role. In 2018 he explained to the news outlet website Now This News in a Facebook interview in 2019. As conceived, the part was that of tech, nerdy character, but Falduto's authentic self came through when he auditioned.

"They changed the entire role for me, 'cause they liked so much what I was bringing to the room. And I was completely unfiltered before 'School of Rock.' So that's why 'School of Rock' is so monumental for me, cause it is literally like a curtain. That audition process was me at my most authentic, and I got noticed because I stood out. And then the rest of my life trying to not stand out."

What he quickly learned was that being different isn't necessarily easy, especially after "I Hate Brian" clubs turned up in fifth grade, and someone from his class distributed a video in which he was called the 'F-word.' The perpetrator was suspended, but Faltudo was blamed as the reason by his classmates.

"All I knew at the time was that being gay was meant to be bad. It was meant to be insulting if someone in your fifth grade class of boys called you gay was not cool," he continued to Now This News. "So I instantly shut it down, And so by the time that I realized that I was potentially gay, I was already homophobic, I replaced a lot of self-acceptance with self repudiation and self-hatred, I wasn't. I was the opposite of proud of my was."

Nor was there a support system. "Throughout my entire life, I never had anyone stop and tell me that it was okay to be me; I'm getting emotional just saying it — and even the people who supported me and loved me, they just knew it was going to be difficult for me. I think that they wanted to change me because they knew they couldn't change the world. What I'm learning now is that it's actually the opposite. Like we can't change anything about the situation, but we can change how we react to the situation."