Whitney Houston Comes Out Posthumously Redux
Houston's lesbianism was an 'open secret'.
Filmmaker Kevin MacDonald ’s documentary “Whitney” now in theaters will add to the laundry list of films, biopics, interviews about singer Whitney Houston. MacDonald’s portrait of the diva phenom known to fans worldwide as “The Voice” is not a must-see. However, the documentary does what other biopics didn’t or couldn’t at the time- reveal that a female family member sexually molested both Whitney and her brother.
In this #MeToo movement disclosure of sexual molestation, abuse and violence facilitates in breaking the century-long “politic of
silence” that continues to dog, mute, and harm the black community.
It’s somewhat troubling, however, how homophobia does, too, but my black community -especially Christian and churched- don’t
name this killer.
For example, 2017 was the year of open but not new revelations about Whitney Houston.
Six years ago, on Feb. 11, 2012, Houston was found dead in the bathtub of her Beverly Hilton Hotel room on the eve of the Grammy
Allegations at the time surfaced that pop superstar Whitney Houston was murdered. These allegations flew counter to the Coroner’s
Office report that there was no sign of foul play or trauma. The official cause of death months later according to the toxicology results
revealed Houston drowned due to drug intoxication.
While a murder investigation was ramped up in 2012 to ascertain who killed Houston, so, too, should’ve been a probe querying what
While family, friends, and fans blamed Whitney’s colossal downfall on drugs and Boston’s bad boy Bobby Brown, both functioned to
mask her sexuality.
Now six years since her death, curiosity about the legendary superstar Whitney Houston’s sexuality has resurfaced again with
MacDonald’s documentary. Same-gender loving continues to be conflated with same-gender violence which is why I was perturbed how
the narrative about Whitney’s sexual fluidity suggests sexual confusion due to two females in her life -a female molester and a lesbian
Last year there was a blitz of materials on Huston’s life and legacy: Sunday New York Times article “Whitney Houston’s Secret,” Bobby
Brown’s second memoir “Every Little Step,” and the then much talked about documentary “Whitney: Can I Be Me”, and by far better
than MacDonald’s “Whitney.”
“I don’t think she was gay, I think she was bisexual,” stylist Ellin Lavar says in the documentary.
In his memoir, Brown writes that Houston’s lesbianism was “an open secret.”
“They couldn’t let Whitney live the life she wanted to live; they insisted that she be perfect, that she be someone she wasn’t,” Mr.
Brown writes. “That’s why they wanted Robyn out.”
Also, drugs and Boston’s bad boy Bobby Brown helped Houston develop an approving black identity.
What is now an adoring and all-embracing black fan base of Houston was not always the case. In 1989, Houston was booed at the Soul
Train Awards for supposedly “not being black enough.” It was at that same show that she met Bobby Brown.
“I have a theory about Whitney Houston,” said singer-actress Della Reese, a longtime Houston family friend. “I’ve been called ‘Uncle
Tom,’ and I know how that feels. I think Whitney was so hurt by being called a ‘sellout’ and ‘acting white’—and crap like that—she
wanted to change her image. What better way to do that than to marry a bad boy? And the drug abuse makes her a flawed person
fighting to overcome her demons. Makes her relatable.”
Long before Houston’s former chauffeur, Al Bowman, told the tabloid television news show “Entertainment Tonight" he witnessed
Whitney and Bobby high on crack cocaine and in a threesome with an A-list soul singer in the back of his limo, rumors that Houston
was a lesbian had been circulating for more than 30 years. And, Houston's personal assistant, as well as best friend Robyn Crawford,
was rumored to have been Houston's lesbian lover. For a while, the two women lived together.
Houston exhibiting gender non-conforming behavior was no secret to those closest to her. The Daily Mail reported that Houston's
sister-in-law, Tina Brown, and her ex-bodyguard, Kevin Ammons, both believed Houston might have been a lesbian because she "had
wild sex sessions with women while out of her mind on crack cocaine."
But it was her ex-spouse, Brown, who over time came to believe Whitney married him with an ulterior motive.
"I believe her agenda was to clean up her image, while mine was to be loved and have children. The media was accusing her of having
a bisexual relationship with her assistant, Robin [sic] Crawford. Since she was the American Sweetheart and all, that didn’t go too well
with her image. …In Whitney’s situation, the only solution was to get married and have kids. That would kill all speculation, whether it
was true or not,” Brown penned in his 2007 tell-all book “Bobby Brown: The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But..."
The freest Houston may have been expressing her sexuality without being drugged out of her mind might have been in 1999 at the
13th Annual New York City Lesbian and Gay Pride Dance. Houston that year flew in for a special surprise guest appearance where she
performed her then two most recent hits, "It's Not Right, But It's Okay," and "Heartbreak Hotel."
Houston’s mother, Cissy, a devout Christian and homophobe, never accepted her daughter’s homoerotic feelings for Robyn Crawford.
In her 2103 memoir “Remembering Whitney” Cissy wrote unabashedly of her disdain for Crawford. Oprah that same year in an
interview with Cissy asked: “Would it have bothered you if your daughter was gay?” “Absolutely,” Cissy snapped back. “You wouldn’t
have condoned it?” continued an incredulous Oprah. “Not at all.
The homophobic constraints of career and family expectations no doubt contribute to the stressors in Whitney's "down low" life, but so,
too, the church, even at her "home-going," (funeral) service.
With homophobes as family friends like Pastor Donnie McClurkin, the poster boy for African American “ex-gay” ministries, and gospel
singers Angie and Debbie Winans, who released a single in 1998 titled “Not Natural," in which they self-righteously denounced LGBTQ
people, to name a few, singing Whitney farewell only a "down low" existence was possible for her.
“I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney’s life, Whitney would still be alive today,” Brown told Us Weekly magazine.
I, do, too!
We may never know all the demons that took this international renown pop star diva down a torturous and troubling road of self-
destruction, but one demon not mentioned is homophobia.