Michael Imperioli bans ‘bigots and homophobes’ from watching his shows after anti-LGBTQ+ ruling

Michael Imperioli

Michael Imperioli – star of The White Lotus and The Sopranos – has banned “bigots and homophobes” from watching any of his shows following a Supreme Court ruling that allows businesses to discriminate against queer customers.

Despite being a joyous time for the queer community to come together, trans voices to be amplified, and new teasers for Heartstopper to send the internet into a frenzy, Pride Month 2023 drew to a close in the United States on a bitter note.

On 30 June, the final day of Pride Month, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Lorie Smith, a Christian web designer from Colorado who refused to design websites to celebrate same-sex weddings on religious grounds.

The 6-3 majority decision, which was handed down on the basis of First Amendment right to free speech by Justice Neil Gorsuch, alongside five other conservative Justices on the court, represents a devastating blow to protections for the LGBTQ+ community in America.

The decision has been slammed by activists and allies alike, with internet darling Pedro Pascal leading the charge – and the Last of Us star has now been joined by veteran actor Michael Imperioli.

“I’ve decided to forbid bigots and homophobes from watching The Sopranos, The White Lotus, Goodfellas or any movie or TV show I’ve been in,” the actor wrote in a furious post to his 300,000-plus Instagram followers, alongside a photo of a news story announcing the court’s decision.

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The Emmy award-winning star went on to sarcastically thank the Supreme Court for “allowing [him] to discriminate and exclude those who [he doesn’t] agree with and am opposed to. USA! USA!”

Imperioli, 57, followed up with several further comments on his own post, adding: “Hate and ignorance is not a legitimate point of view,” and “it’s called dehumanisation”.

He also wrote: “America is becoming dumber by the minute.”

The controversial decision was opposed by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who delivered a long and impassioned dissent from the bench. She was joined by Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Sotomayor wrote: “Today, the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class.

“The LGBT rights movement has made historic strides, and I am proud of the role this Court has recently played in that history,” she wrote elsewhere in the dissent. “Today, however, we are taking steps backward … Today is a sad day in American constitutional law and in the lives of LGBT people.”

Imperioli is best known for his role in HBO crime drama The Sopranos, in which he plays notorious mobster Christopher Moltisanti. Twenty-three years later, he returned to HBO to play Dominic Di Grasso, a sex-addicted Hollywood producer in the second season of The White Lotus alongside Jennifer Coolidge.

Fans of Imperioli’s ruthless Moltisanti are often shocked that the actor is not, in fact, the fictional character, despite his long and proud history of calling out racism, homophobia and transphobia on social media.

In 2020, the actor shared his reaction to fans who are shocked by his liberal politics with Vice.

“[They were like], ‘How could you, Chrissy! Tony would be spinning in his [grave].’ Weird shit like that,” Imperioli said.

“If you’re going to be a fan of mine, watch my stuff, I’d rather you know who I am than not. And if you don’t like it, I don’t really give a f**k.”

Imperioli also told Vice that he deletes his posts after a few days to “cleanse his timeline of the negativity that often infiltrates the zen garden he’s created on the platform”.

His White Lotus character meets a fairly unremarkable end in season two – which is more than can be said for a lot of the show’s characters – and there’s always a possibility creator Mike White could write him into the comedy-drama’s upcoming third season.

One thing’s for sure, though: the bigots won’t be watching, and we don’t get the feeling Imperioli is too stressed about it.

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