Whitney Houston’s Most Intimate Friend Finally Confirmed The Rumors About Their Relationship

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Megastar Whitney Houston passed away in 2012, and since then there’s been a lot of interest in the details of her personal life. In late 2019 a dear friend of hers named Robyn Crawford released a book titled A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston. Within its pages, she confirmed a rumor which had circulated about Houston for some time.

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Houston was one of the most popular singers of her era. She had a lot of smash hits, including “Saving All My Love for You,” “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and, of course, “I Will Always Love You.” This latter song could be heard in The Bodyguard, which she also starred in. According to Guinness World Records, she picked up more awards than any other woman in the music industry.

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However, Houston struggled with drug addiction – and this played a factor in her tragic death. On February 11, 2012, the singer was discovered unconscious in her bathtub. Paramedics were called, but they couldn’t save her. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office later reported that she died from a combination of drowning and the “effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use.”

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The American music community was shocked and devastated by Houston’s death. As she’d died just before the Grammy Awards ceremony that year, the producers put together a tribute to her. Footage of Houston singing was shown at the beginning of the show, and singer Jennifer Hudson performed “I Will Always Love You.”

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Houston’s pal Robyn Crawford spoke to Esquire magazine just after the star’s death. She detailed their relationship, starting with their first meeting and the development of their friendship. When the two first encountered each other, Houston was 16 years old and holding a job in a New Jersey community hub.

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Back then, Crawford remembered, “She was nothing like the Whitney Houston she became but at the same time she was already there.” Although Houston was yet to become a superstar, she was “doing shows in Manhattan with her mother” at that point. Plus, she had been scouted as a model and was doing that, too.

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In fact, Houston was very successful as a young model. She appeared in commercials and on the covers of magazines including Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Seventeen. In fact, she was actually the first ever black woman to be featured on the cover of the latter. That success helped lead her into music.

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Crawford reminisced, “Some people sing just because. [Houston] was never like that. She had to put on her gear. She knew it was going to be a job and that’s how she treated it. Once she committed to something, she finished it. Not long after I met her, she said, ‘Stick with me, and I’ll take you around the world.’ She always knew where she was headed.”

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And, Crawford said, they did indeed go around the world. She explained, “I was her assistant and then her executive assistant and then her creative director. I was her point person for the day-to-day. I traveled all around the world first-class and anyone who ever worked for her will tell you her checks never bounced. You knew she was going to take care of you. She wasn’t going to be in a five-star hotel while you were in a two.”

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Crawford mused of her time at Houston’s side, “I flew the Concorde the way some people ride the bus. She shared the fruits, and she changed a lot of lives. The record company, the band members, her family, her friends, me – she fed everybody. Deep down inside that’s what made her tired.”

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In her piece Crawford remembered Houston’s talents, and “I Will Always Love You.” That song, she said, “was the absolute pinnacle of what she could do, of what anyone could do – and then she had to keep on doing it. Everybody wanted to hear her sing that song, and so she sang it. It didn’t matter whether she had a cold, or wasn’t in good voice. She had to deliver it, and she had it arranged so she could deliver every last note.”

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Before Houston’s death, Crawford wrote, “She was working hard to keep herself together, and I think she felt that if she admitted any feeling of sadness or weakness she would crumble. One time, back when we were young, we were out, we were partying, and I said, ‘Listen, I have to go. I’m tired. I can’t make it.’ And she looked at me with her eyes wide and said, ‘I’ve got to make it.’”

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Crawford went on, sadly, “I have never spoken about her until now. And she knew I wouldn’t. She was a loyal friend, and she knew I was never going to be disloyal to her. I was never going to betray her. Now I can’t believe that I’m never going to hug her or hear her laughter again. I loved her laughter, and that’s what I miss most, that’s what I miss already.”

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At the end of the Esquire piece Crawford explained, “I’m trying not to think of the end. I’m trying not to listen to all the reports. All these people talking about drugs – well, a lot of people take drugs, and they’re still around. Whitney isn’t, because you never know the way the wind blows.”

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And then Crawford concluded, clearly speaking from a place of grief, “I just hope that she wasn’t in pain and that she hadn’t lost hope. She gave so much to so many people; I hope that she felt loved in return. She was the action, for such a long time. She’s out of the action now. I hope she can finally rest.”

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Throughout her article Crawford didn’t mention Houston’s one-time husband Bobby Brown. Houston and Brown had a chaotic relationship to say the least, and drugs were involved. In 2003 Brown was charged after a domestic incident between the couple. The pair divorced in 2007, and Houston got custody of their daughter Bobbi Kristina.

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Tragically, Bobbi Kristina would die not long after her mother did – and in eerily similar circumstances. She, too, was found unconscious in her bathtub in January 2015. Ultimately, it proved impossible to save her in the end. After months in an unresponsive state, the 22-year-old passed away in a hospice.

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In her memoir, Crawford recollected the time when Houston announced she was going to be married to Bobby Brown. At the time, Crawford had asked her friend if she loved Brown, receiving an affirmative answer in response. But then, Houston asked Crawford the problematic and telling question, “Do you think he loves me?”

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But regardless of any concerns she might have had, Houston did marry Brown. The ceremony took place on July 18, 1992, and Crawford was the bride’s maid of honor. Of the wedding, Crawford wrote in her memoir, “I was very emotional. I looked into her eyes when I took her bouquet – taking one last look.”

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In order to promote A Song for You Crawford did an interview with Lena Waithe for Oprah magazine’s website. There, she discussed her exact feelings about the wedding. She explained, “I really wanted this to work for my friend. I wanted whatever vision she dreamed for herself – I wanted her to be happy.”

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Crawford went on, “I didn’t know anything else about [Brown] beyond what everyone else knew. That he was a womanizer, that he was over here with this one, that one. But he was obsessed with Whitney. Later on, though, I realized that Bobby never knew Nip [Houston’s childhood nickname]. He never got to be her friend.”

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Of her own relationship with Brown, Crawford said, “He never raised his hand to me. Now, I never had a real substantial conversation with him, either – the kind where you connect with someone, sit down, and talk to them. I would just see Bobby perform. That’s what I’d call it.”

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Crawford went on, “I’d see him behave in a way that… maybe, it was jealousy, or you might mistake that for him being protective of Whitney. But I didn’t have this conversation with Whitney about it. And I write in the book, I’d buy gifts for someone from Whitney. And Bobby would flip. When I mean flip… that’s when he’d get in my face. And Whitney wouldn’t say anything.”

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Yet, despite all that, Brown himself seemed to have only nice things to say about Crawford when he did an interview with Us magazine in June 2016. In that article, in fact, he made a shocking claim. He said, “I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney’s life, Whitney would still be alive today.”

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What exactly did he mean? Well, in the same piece Brown claimed that Houston was bisexual, and that she had once had a romantic relationship with Crawford. And in A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston, Crawford herself confirmed it. The pair had apparently been in love, but Houston’s mother refused to accept that.

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Crawford’s description in the book of her and Houston’s romance is a touching one. She wrote, “We could not stay away from each other. We didn’t share what happened with anyone, but our connection was undeniable. You could feel it… We were partners. I didn’t know how long it was going to last, but I knew we were meant to be.”

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Regarding the definition of their relationship, Crawford said, “We never talked labels, like lesbian or gay. We just lived our lives, and I hoped it could go on that way forever. From a young age, I loved beautiful people. Sometimes the beauty that captured me came in the form of a male, and sometimes it came in the form of a female. Either way worked for me.”

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Crawford went on, “Our affection for each other had blossomed undetected but in full view. Like other girls, we sat close to each other or held hands. Sometimes Whitney sat in my lap while we talked in the park, or sat between my legs on the ground resting her head on my thigh. Nearby, another pair of girls might adopt a similar posture, doing hair or lying across each other telling secrets.”

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Using her childhood nickname for Houston, Crawford remembered, “Often, with little notice, Nip would come by and we’d go to the beach. She swam like a fish and loved the ocean; I could take it or leave it.” Though Crawford disliked beaches, “it was heaven for Nip, and as long as we were together, I was down for whatever.”

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Crawford also described her first kiss with Houston in the book. She wrote, “We talked and talked. And then all of a sudden, we were face to face. The first kiss was long and slow, like honey. As we eased out of it, my nerves shot up and my heart beat furiously. Something was happening between us.”

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But the relationship could not last. According to Crawford, after Houston was first signed to a record label she decided she couldn’t be Crawford’s girlfriend. The singer handed a Bible to the other woman and recounted something her mother Cissy had told her. Namely, that it “wasn’t natural for two women to be that close.”

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Cissy Houston has often made it clear that she wouldn’t have accepted her daughter in a same-sex relationship. When she appeared on Oprah’s Next Chapter in January 2013, Oprah outright asked her, “Would it have bothered you if your daughter was gay?” She got an affirmative answer, with Cissy telling her, “Absolutely.”

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Oprah asked whether Cissy knew about any romantic relationship between Houston and Crawford. Cissy answered, “I don’t really know.” Yet there seemed to be a lot she didn’t know about her daughter. For instance, she told Oprah she’d never been aware of the extent of abuse in her marriage to Brown, either.

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In her interview with Lena Waithe, Crawford spoke about why she wrote the book. She explained, “I had comfort in my silence for many years. When her daughter Bobbi Kristina passed, that’s when I first really felt the need to stand up, hearing the way people were treating Bobbi, Whitney, our friendship, and their version of my story. And I felt the legacy of my friend was buried underneath all of that.”

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Crawford went on, “That’s when I had to ask Nip about writing this book. I actually sat there and asked her up above, ‘What would you want me to do? Do you understand why now?’ Feeling her yes, that was my clearance.” She wanted, she said, to “lift her legacy out of the trash, to elevate it and put it back in her hands.”

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In the interview Crawford explained how things had evolved when Houston started dating men. “I left school not to be her lover, but to be there for her,” she said. “To work and watch her rise. I believed in the dream that she painted. When I saw her in church, I felt the energy. I was a witness. I knew she had a powerful gift to touch people that was much bigger than either of us.”

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She went on, “Above all else, we were friends. Yes, we ate up that first summer together, talking about everything, talking about music, spending time together, misbehaving together. You name it, we did it. We were intimate with all of it. And the physical part was like a river. We both dived in, and there was goodness there.”

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Today, Crawford is married to a woman called Lisa, with whom she has children. She lives a reasonably private life and has a new job as a fitness trainer. But she desperately wanted to tell the story of herself and Houston. And that meant something to her interviewer Waithe, too. You see, Waithe is gay, and she’s often spoken about the importance of black lesbian visibility.

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In the interview Waithe told Crawford, “I don’t exist in this world without you being as authentic as you were.” She went on, “I saw myself in you. And I didn’t know why back then. I was a young person who didn’t have the language to understand who I was yet. But I was aware I wasn’t like everybody else.”

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So, Crawford writing her memoir was important in more ways than one. In her interview with Waithe, she remembered how Houston’s last words to her were, “I love you. Call me.” And after her death, Crawford explained, she still felt like her old girlfriend was there with her in some way. Writing the book and telling the story was part of that.

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