Joshua Thomas Lieberman, "Escapes" (2021)

An oil painting of objects associated with the marriages and divorces of members of The Gay Divorcees: a Uhaul truck, a Gucci loafer, two red tulips, an unlocked BDSM collar, a baseball glove, a sailboat, a US passport, and a spilled bottle of nail polish. The objects are assembled alongside each other as a still life on a table covered with a blue cloth.


The Gay Divorcees is a band of real-life queers who got gay married and gay divorced, led by composer Ethan Philbrick, who came together during a pandemic to write songs about getting into and out of state-sanctioned intimacy in the 21st century.

Throughout February 2021, The Gay Divorcees streamed their album of songs over the toll-free number 1-855-GAY-DIVO. On Sunday, February 14th, they teamed up with the One Archives at USC to present a remote Valentine’s Day listening party filled with performances, readings, and other surprises. On Thursday, February 25th, a group of queer theorists offered responses to the project in an online event hosted by the Department of Performance Studies at NYU.

In a moment when many people are trying to figure out how to get out of situations that are no longer working or keep going after the end of something, The Gay Divorcees approach their experience with marriage and divorce as potentially instructive. Divorce your old patterns! Divorce your broken political systems! Divorce your inherited ideologies!

A billboard advertising The Gay Divorcee's tollfree number, installed at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Classon Avenue for the month of February 2021. Photo by Ethan Philbrick.

Sandwiched between law ads, the billboard for 1-855-DIVO sits above three parked cars in a grey industrial scene, a flock of pigeons fly through.


An animated portrait of The Gay Divorcees by Joshua Thomas Lieberman. Clockwise from top left: Ethan Philbrick, Ita Segev, Ashton Young, Paul Legault, Julia Steinmetz, Robbie Acklen, Lauren Denitzio, and Lauren Bakst

An animated grid portrait of the eight members of The Gay Divorcees by Joshua Thomas Lieberman. The middle of the grid says, “The Gay Divorcees!” in block letters. Around this are eight images: Ethan Philbrick lounging on the floor, Ita Segev against a white background, Ashton Young with a painting behind them that says “and I begin again,” Paul Legault outside, Julia Steinmetz against a green background, Robbie Acklen posing in a robe with a hammer, Lauren Denitzio with a dog, and Lauren Bakst against a brick background. In otherwise still images, the mouths of the members of the band are oscillating between smiling and frowning on an infinite loop.

Robbie Acklen


Robbie Acklen is a photographer and sculptor born in Cincinnati. He recently began studying for his MFA from Rutgers University. Acklen attended Pitzer College in Claremont from 2008-2012. Acklen’s art has been presented at Bad Reputation in Los Angeles. Acklen performs alongside Alexandro Segade and Malik Gaines in the collective A.R.M. and has performed at The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Kuir Fest, Bogota, and The High Line, New York.

Lauren Bakst


Lauren Bakst is devoted to practices of relation and capacious formations of intimacy that become possible in spaces of dance, performance, and poetics. She is currently pursuing a PhD in English at the University of Pennsylvania.

Lauren Denitzio


Lauren Denitzio is an artist and musician currently based in Los Angeles. Their visual art practice focuses on the reimagining of women, non-binary, and queer folks in their domestic spaces. Lauren is also the songwriter of the rock band Worriers, which has toured internationally with acts such as Against Me!, The Wonder Years, Julien Baker, Anti Flag, and more.

Paul Legault


Paul Legault is the author of, most recently, The Tower (Coach House Books, 2020). His previous books include The Madeleine Poems (Omnidawn, 2010), The Other Poems (Fence, 2011), The Emily Dickinson Reader: An English-to-English Translation of the Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (McSweeney’s, 2012), Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror 2 (Fence, 2016), and Lunch Poems 2 (Spork, 2018). He also co-edited The Sonnets: Translating and Rewriting Shakespeare (Nightboat, 2012).

Joshua Thomas Lieberman


Joshua Thomas Lieberman (visuals) is a visual artist living and working in London, UK. IG @___dogs_____

Ethan Philbrick


Ethan Philbrick is a cellist, composer, and writer who uses performance and text to activate historical archives and locate new ways of being together. Philbrick holds a PhD in performance studies from New York University and is currently a visiting assistant professor of performance studies at Muhlenberg College. Recent performance works include Choral Marx at NYU Skirball (2018), 10 Meditations in an Emergency at The Poetry Project (2019), March is for Marches with Morgan Bassichis at Triple Canopy (2019), Disordo Virtutum at Museum of Art and Design (2020), and Slow Dances at The Kitchen Video Viewing Room (2020). Philbrick's writing has been published in academic journals such as TDR, PAJ, ASAP/Journal, Women and Performance, and Studies in Gender and Sexuality.

Ita Segev


Ita Segev is an anti-Zionist Israeli trans woman based between Brooklyn and Los Angeles. Ita makes performances, writes, acts/performers and does cultural and community building work. Using both a multi & un-disciplined approach her work nudges people to feel, embody and imagine more fully in a world that is obsessed with confining our bodies, boarders and capacity for care. Recent credits include creating and performing her full Length multimedia performance ‘Knot In My Name’ (world premiere at Gibney NYC), acting in Shakina Nayfack’s ‘Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club’ (distributed worldwide on Audible in collaboration with Williamstown Theater Festival), performing in the U.S and international tour of 600 HIGHWAYMEN’s ‘The Fever’, and founding ‘(SPACE) For The Girls’ a residency for trans women & femmes making live performance in NYC (co-curated with David Sierra at Brooklyn Arts Exchange). IG @itaqt.

Julia Steinmetz


Julia Steinmetz is a writer and artist based in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Performance + Performance Studies at Pratt Institute. Julia holds a PhD in Performance Studies from NYU, an MFA in Photography and Media from CalArts, and a Deep Listening Certificate from the Center for Deep Listening at RPI. Her writing is published in academic journals including Signs, Women & Performance, Studies in Gender and Sexuality, TSQ, and QED, and also appears in the edited volumes Queer (2016), Commerce by Artists (2013), and exhibition catalogues including Cassils (2015) and Cassils: Solutions (2020). She co-founded the Los Angeles based queer feminist performance collective Toxic Titties.

Ashton Young


Ashton (Ashley Young) is a Black Queer genderqueer feminist writer, teacher, artist, tarot reader and witch. Their work has been published in three anthologies, Hot and Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press), All About Skin: Short Fiction by Women of Color (University of Wisconsin Press) and Lambda Literary Award winning Glitter and Grit: Queer Performance from the Heels on Wheels Femme Galaxy (Portland Studio). They have also been featured in several online magazines, such as Elixher, Autostraddle, Rest as Resistance, Rvkvry Journal and more. They are a 2010 Voices of Our Nation's Foundation Poetry Fellow and a 2011/2016 Lambda Literary Foundation Nonfiction Fellow. Ashton is currently working as the Grants and Development Coordinator at The New Orleans Abortion Fund. They own a small tarot business called Black Unicorn Tarot focusing on readings for the QTPOC community and teach workshops across the country. They are currently working on a collection of poetry and prose and are completing their first novel, a biomythography entitled The Liberation of the Black Unicorn. Ashton lives in New Orleans, LA where they share a Black Unicorn House with a fellow black witch and their sweet pup Truce. Follow them on Instragram @blackunicornrise and visit their Black Unicorn Tarot Facebook page to learn more about their spiritual work.


Video by Joshua Thomas Lieberman

Track List

1. You Can Leave What Isn’t Working (Intro) by Ethan Philbrick (0:00)
2. No Proper Thing by Lauren Bakst and Kris Lee (1:05)
3. Us Both by Paul Legault (5:03)
4. Future Ex-Husband by Ita Segev (8:48)
5. Better Than Maybe by Paul Legault (11:30)
6. Red Flags by Julia Steinmetz (14:28)
7. Get Away by Ethan Philbrick (18:20)
8. I Did My Job by Ita Segev (20:13)
9. My Ex’s Recipes by Robbie Acklen (22:45)
10. Backyard Garden by Lauren Denitzio (26:09)
11. Sick With You by Ashton Young (28:57)
12. You Can Leave What Isn’t Working (Reprise) by Ethan Philbrick (31:27)