Here’s what it was like being 'the gay kid' from 'School of Rock.' (Spoiler: not fun.)

If you watched Jack Black's 2003 comedy "School of Rock," you probably remember Billy.

In a pivotal scene where Black's character, substitute teacher Mr. Finn, is urging students to "fight the man" by insulting him, Billy's response became one of the film's standout one-liners: "You're tacky and I hate you."

GIF from "School of Rock."


The sassy comment was quoted off-camera. A lot. The line became a well-traveled GIF and meme with impressive shelf life. 15 years after the film premiered, Google pretty much knows that if you're searching "you're tacky," you're likely digging for the comedic gem in some form or another.

While Billy became an on-screen favorite, the young actor who brought him to life, however, grappled with a sobering reality unfolding behind the scenes: the pitfalls of being labeled the "gay kid" from "School of Rock" before he even really understood what being gay actually meant.

At 11 years old, all actor Brian Falduto knew about the word "gay" was that it was often meant to be an insult.

And many people — and media outlets — were directing the label at him.

Falduto (left) with a friend. Photo courtesy of Brian Falduto.

While he continued acting throughout middle school, Falduto returned to a relatively normal life in New Jersey after shooting the film. But the stereotypes associated with his character followed him there.

"For you to not even hit puberty and have people start labeling you [as gay] is interesting," Falduto explains, his tone suggesting there's another word for it.

"I was very quickly labeled 'the gay kid' from 'School of Rock' once the movie came out, both among peers and strangers. I was in fifth grade, and the world was informing me of who I was or how they saw me. My identity wasn’t mine to claim."

Falduto (front row, third from the left) and his young "School of Rock" co-stars. Photo courtesy of Brian Falduto.

Falduto's label as "the gay kid" in the film contributed to the bullying he faced in school.

He says he was picked on for hanging out with girls instead of boys. A couple of classmates created a "I Hate Brian Club" — something Falduto laughs off now as being ridiculous and juvenile, but at the time, he says it felt ostracizing. "It was rough to deal with," the actor explains of feeling different. "But a lot of the time, I would pretend I didn’t hear these things."

Falduto (middle) with loved ones. Photo courtesy of Brian Falduto.

"People have gone through much worse than I have," Falduto makes sure to point out, noting he had a good group of friends and was even elected prom king. But the love and support he felt couldn't stomp out all the homophobia.

In high school, another student spread a video of Falduto dancing with friends and included a gay slur and threatening message in the post's caption. "That was a rough day, for sure," he says.

Falduto's story may be unique because of his ties to Hollywood, but his battle with bullying is relatable for too many LGBTQ kids.

Queer youth remain at significantly higher risk of bullying at the hands of their classmates. One study published last year by research firm RTI International found LGBTQ kids are harassed or threatened at rates two to three times higher than their straight, cisgender peers.

What's more, RTI's research — analyzing data from the previous two decades — discovered a startling shift.

"We want to think that things are getting better," Tasseli McKay, a social science researcher at RTI’s Center for Justice, told The Daily Beast. "In regards to the victimization that young people are experiencing, the trend is toward victimization worsening, not getting better."

But Falduto's story shows why every LGBTQ kid should hold out hope.

Photo courtesy of Sub/Urban Photography.

"I’m finally OK being 'the gay kid' from 'School of Rock,'" Falduto explains of his journey toward self-acceptance. "I’m happy with who I am."

Today, the 26-year-old lives in Los Angeles and continues auditioning for new roles. He dove into the music world more recently, releasing his debut EP, "Love One Another," last summer and launched a live performance series on YouTube as well.

Falduto plans to be certified as an LGBTQ life coach, hoping his own story can help queer kids come out and feel confident in their own skin. "I almost appreciate my struggles more," Falduto says, "because people who may not have struggled as much may not have asked the same questions I’ve asked myself that have made me a better person."

Photo courtesy of Sub/Urban Photography.

"The freedom that comes with accepting who you are is so liberating," Falduto says.

"It sounds like the scariest thing you could ever do, but it’s actually the most liberating thing you could ever do."

Watch Falduto performing "Turn That Song Back On" in his live performance series below:

Cats are notoriously weird. Everyone who's had cats knows that they each have their own unique quirks, idiosyncrasies, preferences, habits, and flat-out WTFness.

But even those of us who have experience with bizarre cat behavior are blown away by the antics this "cat dad" is able to get away with.

Kareem and Fifi are the cat parents of Chase, Skye, and Millie—literally the most chill kitties ever. They share their family life on TikTok as @dontstopmeowing, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. When you see them, you'll understand why.

Take Chase's spa days, for example. It may seem unreal at first, but watch what happens when Fifi tries to take away his cucumber slices.

When she puts them back on his eyes? WHAT?! What cat would let you put them on once, much less get mad when you take them off?

This cat. Chase is living his best life.

But apparently, it's not just Chase. Skye and Millie have also joined in "spaw day." How on earth does one couple end up with three hilariously malleable cats?

Oh, and if you think they must have been sedated or something, look at how wide awake they are during bath time. That's right, bath time. Most cats hate water, but apparently, these three couldn't care less. How?

They'll literally do anything. The Don't Stop Meowing channel is filled with videos like this. Cats wearing glasses. Cats wearing hats. Cats driving cars. It's unbelievable yet highly watchable entertainment.

If you're worried that Kareem gets all the love and Fifi constantly gets the shaft, that seems to be a bit for show. Look at Chase and Fifi's conversation about her leaving town for a business trip:

The whole channel is worth checking out. Ever seen a cat being carried in a baby carrier at the grocery store? A cat buckled into a car seat? Three cats sitting through storytime? It's all there. (Just a heads up: A few of the videos have explicit language, so parents might want to do a preview before watching with little ones.) You can follow the couple and their cats on all their social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube if TikTok isn't your thing, here.

If you weren't a cat person before, these videos might change your mind. Fair warning, however: Getting a cat because you want them to do things like this would be a mistake. Cats do what they want to do, and no one can predict what weird traits they will have. Even if you raise them from kittenhood, they're still unpredictable and weird.

And honestly, we wouldn't have them any other way.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

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There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

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