Whitney Houston holds up a Grammy Award. She's wearing a pink dress.
Whitney Houston Photo: Shutterstock

In her soon-to-be-released memoir, A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston, the legendary singer’s longtime best friend Robyn Crawford writes that the two had a “physical” relationship as teenagers when they first met in 1980, lending credence to the claim that Houston was bisexual.

Houston reportedly ended their physical relationship soon after she signed a record deal at age 19 for fear that people would use their relationship against them.

Related: Homophobia is what killed Whitney Houston

Of their relationship, Crawford writes:

It was during that first summer that we met. It was the first time our lips touched. And it wasn’t anything planned, it just happened. And it felt wonderful. And then not long after that we spent the night together. And that evening was the night that we touched. And that just brought us closer.

Houston reportedly told Crawford that her mother, gospel singer Cissy Houston, said their relationship “wasn’t natural.” When Whitney eventually ended their physical relationship, she gave Crawford a blue bible as a token of healing. Crawford writes:

[Houston] said we shouldn’t be physical anymore because it would make our journey even more difficult. She said if people find out about us, they would use this against us, and back in the ’80s that’s how it felt. We never talked about labels, like lesbian or gay. We just lived our lives and I hoped it could go on that way forever.

The two ended up becoming close, lifelong friends and endured rumors that the two were in a secret relationship. Crawford served as Houston’s personal assistant until she resigned in 2000.

Talk show host Wendy Williams used to talk openly about Houston’s rumored bisexuality and drug use on her radio show, including in Williams’ expletive-filled 2003 interview with the singer. The accusations — which ended up being somewhat true — angered Houston and Crawford enough that the two women considered confronting Williams in person. The confrontation never happened though.

Houston claimed in a 2000 interview with Out, “I’m heterosexual. Period. But I love everybody. If I was gay, I would be proud to tell you, ‘cause I ain’t that kind of girl to say, ‘Naw, that ain’t me.’”

“My mother raised me to never, ever be ashamed of what I am. But I’m not a lesbian, darling. I’m not.”

Crawford wrote that, seven years after Houston’s February 2012 drowning, she wanted her memoir to be honest about their relationship.

“I felt an urgency to stand up and share the woman behind the incredible talent,” Crawford writes. “I wanted to lift her legacy, give her respect and share the story of who she was before the fame, and in that, to embrace our friendship.”

In a July 2016 interview with Us magazine, Whitney Houston’s widower, former R&B singer Bobby Brown, acknowledged the women’s romantic relationship and said, “I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney’s life, Whitney would still be alive today.”

In the 2017, Whitney Houston documentary Whitney: Can I Be Me?, David Roberts, Whitney’s former bodyguard said:

Bobby Brown and Robyn Crawford were like fire and ice. They hated each other. They’d battle for her affections. Bobby and Robyn had some physical altercations and there were times where he wasn’t always the winner. But then Whitney would always come and pour oil over troubled waters.

Crawford didn’t appear in the 2017 documentary.

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