American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Making Music: Stephen and Mark’s Love Story

AFER’s Love Stories series tells the stories of couples who are waiting to get married. If you are a gay or lesbian couple who is planning to get married, tell us your story and you could be featured.

Take a Chance on Me

The story of how Mark Towns and Stephen Pearlman of Chicago first met six years ago is straight out of a romance novel. Mark owned a small business selling jewelry online and every week he would drop by his safe deposit box at a local bank. Stephen worked as a bank teller at that very branch and strategically timed the line so Mark would end up at his window. After two months of visits, Mark took a chance and gave Stephen his business card.

When Stephen got home, he visited the URL listed on the back of the card and discovered that Mark made synthpop remixes as a hobby. He came across a section devoted to the band Erasure. “It is my all-time favorite band, and I thought what are the chances of this?” He continues, “So after I found out that we had that in common, I gave him a call and said lets meet up for a drink after work one day.”

Stephen also creates electronic music in his spare time.  After getting to know each other personally, they agreed it was time to get to know each other’s music. Mark says, “We sat down next to one another and put our headphones on each other and pressed play at the same time. As soon as it started, I got giddy. It was unreal the music that he was making and I could tell the feelings were mutual. It was in that moment that we both knew we were meant to be together.”

The two began collaborating and have been making music together ever since.

Oh L’Amour

Before they moved in together, the couple would often conclude their dates by taking a stroll through their neighborhood park and, without missing a beat, sit on the same bench before parting ways.  “So that became our little park, and our little bench and we just loved it. It’s where we had our first kiss,” says Mark.

Some years later, the park was razed and the couple was concerned over what would replace it. Mark laughed, “We thought our special place was going to turn into a Walgreens or McDonalds.  Instead, they built a hotel. So now on every anniversary, we have a little stay-cation. The staff all knows how much the spot means to us so they treat us like royalty.”

Be With You

The couple is quick to note that they are the ying to each other’s yang.

Stephen loves Mark’s sense of adventure and his ability to pull him out of his shell. He says, “He gets me to do things I never thought I could do, and together I think we’ve been able to do some really neat things and I love that about him and our relationship.”

Mark adores how calm and patient Stephen is. “I’m inclined to road rage and Stephen is the exact opposite,” Mark jokes. “He’s very Zen like. He’s one of the gentlest people I’ve met. He’s extremely patient with me,” Mark says.

Had marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples been legal all along, Mark and Stephen would have been married three years ago, so the couple plans to wed the same day Illinois recognizes the freedom to marry. “There is almost no reason for us to wait, and there are so many benefits,” says Mark.

Unfortunately, because the Illinois House failed to pass marriage equality legislation last week, their wait will continue.