“He looked like a nice-enough guy to spend an evening, or the next 20 years, with,” Stephen Eichler joked about the beginning of his romance with soon-to-be husband Anthony Whittaker.
The couple met in 1997, while at The Monster in New York City.
Whittaker was talking to his friend, who was the bartender, and said he noticed Eichler “right away” when he came in.
“He had very distinctive gray hair, and he caught my attention,” he said.
They made eye contact, but Eichler went downstairs for a bit. He returned, though, and the pair eventually started talking.
“That was it, that’s history,” Whittaker said. “As he says, I came home with him and never left.”
The pair will marry April 8, on their 20th anniversary, in Morrisville, where they live.
Eichler, 63, has worked in the airline industry, based out of Newark, N.J., for more than three decades. Whittaker, 57, is a paralegal at The Swain Law Firm.
While the couple has some common interests, including French food, they also pride themselves on their differences.
“In our case, it is opposites do attract,” Eichler said.
However, among their commonalities is love of family.
“Both of us have strong family values,” Whittaker said. “We both believe very strongly in family. I think that’s what’s helped keep us together for 20 years.”
Eichler cited Whittaker’s “quiet calmness” among his favorite traits in his fiancé, while Whittaker said Eichler’s generosity stands out for him
“He has a very loving and giving heart,” he said. “He cares a lot, and a lot of times he’ll put other people before himself.”
The couple began discussing marriage on their anniversary last year.
“‘So next year is our 20th. Do you think we should do it?’” Eichler recalled of their discussion. He said they decided to go ahead with it, in part to honor the changes they’ve seen the community undergo in the past few decades. “I believe that we should take advantage of this unique period in history to honor those who came before us that did not have the opportunity and to honor those that fought so hard that we could.”
“We’ve seen, from the late ’70s to now, how far the LGBTQ community has come,” Whittaker added. “I think with all the changes, and because we lived through those changes, we decided we’re going to get married.
“And we’re getting older so going back to those bars is just too much,” Whittaker laughed. “Been there, done that.”
History will also factor into their ceremony, which is being held at Summerseat.
“We are marrying on our 20th anniversary before our friends and family and neighbors at a historic pre-Revolutionary mansion that was the summer home of Robert Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, because ‘all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these are life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness.’”