Brian Falduto, who played Billy in School of Rock, has said being labelled “the gay kid” in the hit film delayed his coming out by years.
Falduto played a sassy kid obsessed with costume design and style in the 2003 hit film – but cruel comments from other children encouraged him to stay in the closet until his senior year of college.
Speaking on the Cooper and Anthony show, Brian Falduto – who now works as a life coach – admitted he was “in so much denial” about his sexuality after starring in School of Rock that coming out didn’t feel like an option.
“Think about it: I was in the fifth grade when this movie came out and I was called gay, and then someone told me that’s not cool, so I was just like, ‘Oh, OK then, I’m not gay.’
“That message came to me so often that my denial had to come so often, so I was denying it before I even got notion of the idea of what it was. So by the time I realised I was potentially gay I was already homophobic towards myself essentially.”
He continued: “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, which I think that’s one of the reasons I got into life coaching in my older age a little bit too – because it’s just so fascinating to me how the mind works and how it locks into these different conditioning and behaviour patterns just because of one thing you told yourself 14 years ago. It’s really crazy.”
School of Rock star Brian Falduto was targeted by homophobic bullies
This is not the first time Falduto has opened up about the struggles he faced growing up gay – in 2018, he told NowThis Entertainment that he was mocked by bullies in school because of his School of Rock character, which he said producers changed to fit his “unfiltered” self because they “liked so much what I was bringing to the room”.
“That audition process was me at my most authentic, and I got noticed because I stood out. And then I spent the rest of my life trying to not stand out.”
He explained: “All I knew at the time was that being gay was bad. It was meant to be insulting if someone in your fifth grade class of boys called you gay, it was not cool. So I instantly shut it down.”