Falduto played the role of Billy in the 2003 movie and was nicknamed "Fancy Pants" after being the stylist for the fictional all-student band led by Jack Black. In a 2018 essay, Falduto wrote that playing Billy led him to be called the "gay kid from 'School of Rock'." The former child actor revealed in an interview on the "Cooper and Anthony" radio show posted Tuesday that the label gave him feelings of "denial" about his own sexuality.
When "School of Rock" was released Falduto was in fifth grade. Years later, during his senior year of college, he came out as gay.
"I was in so much denial," Falduto said. "This movie came out and I got called 'gay' and then someone told me that's not cool so I just was like 'Oh OK I'm not gay.' "
The former child actor said he was receiving negative messages surrounding gayness so often that his denial grew before he even understood what it meant to be homosexual or queer.
"By the time I realized I was potentially gay, I was already homophobic toward myself," he said. "In college I met a bunch of gay people and I was like 'this is awesome and they're great but this isn't an option for me.' "
Now Falduto is a life coach who focuses on wellness for the LBGTQ community, he says his experience led him to his current career.
"It's so fascinating to me how the mind works and how it locks into these different conditioning and behavior patterns just because of one thing you told yourself 14 years ago," Falduto added. "It's crazy."
Along with the rest of the "School of Rock" cast, Falduto recently grieved the death of former castmate Kevin Clark, who starred in the film as a kid drummer. In May, Clark died after being hit by a car while on a bicycle. Falduto gave his condolences in an emotional Instagram post.
"We will miss you, Kevin. Thank you for finally forgiving me (in 2016) for making you wear spandex & heels. So, so much love to you, you wickedly talented & wonderfully kind man," he wrote.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'School of Rock': Brian Falduto struggled with sexuality after role