It has been seven years since the tragic death of iconic singer Whitney Houston, and now her best friend, Robyn Crawford, is opening up about their much-rumored relationship in her new memoir, A Song For You: My Life With Whitney Houston.
In an exclusive excerpt with People, Crawford, 58, who now lives a quiet life as a family fitness trainer with her partner (talent executive Lisa Hintleman) and their two adopted children revealed the “physical” nature of her past relationship with Houston for the first time.
“I’d come to the point where I felt the need to stand up for our friendship. And I felt an urgency to stand up and share the woman behind the incredible talent,” Crawford said.
The two met in 1980 at an East Orange, New Jersey summer camp when Crawford was 19 years old and Houston was turning 17 years old.
As Houston’s fame grew, many fans noticed Crawford was always around, popping up in several pictures featuring the legendary singer. She was considered to be Houston’s confidant, but rumors swirled that their relationship went beyond platonic. For instance, Houston’s ex-husband Bobby Brown’s irritation and suspicion of the two women’s relationship was chronicled in BET’s The Bobby Brown Story.
“We wanted to be together,” says Crawford, “and that meant just us.”
Whitney ended the physical part of their relationship early on, soon after she signed a record deal with Clive Davis at Arista.
The singer broke the news by giving Crawford a gift of a slate blue Bible one day in 1982.
“She said we shouldn’t be physical anymore,” writes Crawford, “because it would make our journey even more difficult.”
“She said if people find out about us, they would use this against us,” says Crawford, “and back in the ’80s that’s how it felt.”
And so, she says, “I kept it safe. I found comfort in my silence.”
In addition to the pressures of maintaining Houston’s wholesome image in the music industry, there was pushback from Houston’s family, according to Crawford.
“Whitney told me her mother said it wasn’t natural for two women to be that close,” Crawford recalled. “But, we were that close.”
Houston was raised in the Baptist church, which was a clear origin story in regards to her vocal talent, but the religious pressures may have also influenced her reluctance to truly love freely. Her relationship with Crawford began to create speculation around her sexuality, but Crawford insists they never labeled themselves.
“We never talked about labels, like lesbian or gay,” Crawford wrote. “We just lived our lives and I hoped it could go on that way forever.”
A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston will be released on Nov. 12.