'School of Rock's' Billy Writes About Being Labeled "The Gay Kid"

Right, Jenny Anderson/Getty Images

Ahead of the film's 15-year anniversary this fall, Brian Falduto opens up about growing up being viewed as "a young gay figurehead" and how he's finally found peace with that.

Brian Falduto, an actor and musician best known for playing Billy (or "Fancy Pants") in the Jack Black musical film School of Rock, opens up about his experience growing up as "the gay kid" from the film in an emotional essay for The Advocate.

Saying that he's now "OK with it," he explains that, because of his role in the film, which came out 15 years ago in October, he was labeled as "gay" early on. "No one in my life was taking the time to stop and tell me that it was OK to just be me. I was always expected to fit in, even though I was most known for standing out," he says.

He explains that, at the time, "there also weren’t seasons of The Voice like the current one where sexually diverse and gender-fluid talents are represented or openly gay Olympic figure skaters like Adam Rippon." Despite that, he found himself "broadcast as a relatable image for so many people in my exact same situation." And, he says, "The added element of being a young gay figurehead when I didn’t have any personal role models to depend on, well, complicated things, to say the least."

He grappled with immense self-doubt, he says, which caused him "to not audition well anymore." It wasn't until he fell in love for the first time and finally came out that he says he felt he was fully showcasing his true self.

"Oddly enough, accepting my lane or my 'type' or whatever you want to call it has been liberating and has allowed so many more opportunities to present themselves. I finally know what I’m bringing into the room or onto the stage, and I genuinely feel like it’s something worth contributing," Falduto says.

The actor's essay comes on the heels of Friday's theatrical release of Love, Simon. The film is making history as the first mainstream studio movie to feature a gay teen romance. Australian actor Keiynan Lonsdale, who appears in the movie, discussed coming out to the cast and crew of the film in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

"It's an interesting thing to go through that kind of growth and learn those lessons while your character is also learning those lessons," said Lonsdale. "I'm very thankful for it."

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