Whitney Houston’s surprise death in 2012 shocked many who knew and loved the singer. Few were as devastated as the singer’s longtime best friend, confidante, and shield from the outside world, Robyn Crawford.
Last year, it was revealed that Robyn and Whitney shared more than an emotional friendship — the two were also romantically and physically involved. Now in her new memoir, A Song for You: My Life With Whitney Houston, Robyn is being more candid than ever about everything she and Whitney shared.
When asked why she’s speaking out now, Robyn told People, “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.”
Robyn explains in her book that she and Whitney met in 1980 when they both worked as camp counselors. Robyn told Whitney, “I’m going to look out for you,” and the two began a physical relationship.
Robyn also explains that Whitney ended the physical part of their relationship two years later after gifting her a Bible. “She 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.”
Robyn goes on to explain that “back in the ’80s that’s how it felt.” Robyn then decided to keep their secret safe, as part of her promise to take care of Whitney. She goes on to write, “I kept it safe. I found comfort in my silence.”
Whitney’s family was also reportedly against the physical relationship between the two, with her mother being a particularly outspoken critic. Robyn writes, “Whitney told me her mother said it wasn’t natural for two women to be that close, but we were that close.”
The two never put a label on their relationship, Robyn writes. “We never talked about labels, like lesbian or gay. We just lived our lives and I hoped it could go on that way forever.” Rumors often abounded that Whitney might be bisexual or gay, and part of the reason was her ongoing closeness to Robyn.
In the documentary Whitney, the singer speaks fondly of Robyn. “I was 16 and we were working at summer jobs and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is really going to be a trip this summer — I don’t have any friends,” she said, according to People. “And then here comes Robyn with this beautiful, beautiful afro. She was tall and very statuesque and I was like, ‘Wow man.’ She stood up for me. I remember thinking I’ve known this person seems like all my life.”
In fact, Whitney moved out of her mother’s home and in with Robyn when she turned 18. Whitney’s longtime agent, Nicole David, said, “Robyn loved Whitney. She was also very young and probably not equipped to withstand the slings and arrows. Do I believe it was a sexual relationship as well? I believe it was.”
For their part, Whitney’s family has often spoken out against Robyn’s claims and their ideas about the type of relationship the two women had. Whitney’s brother, Gary, says in Whitney that, “Robyn was a nobody, she was an opportunist. I’ve never seen them do anything but I know that she was something that I didn’t want my sister to be involved with.”
Bobby Brown and Robyn did not see eye to eye. While Robyn was Whitney’s maid of honor in her 1992 wedding, feelings quickly soured between the singer’s husband and her best friend. Whitney broke up with her best friend in the mid-1990s, around the same time her career began to sink.
Whitney and Bobby had one daughter, Bobbi Kristina, who tragically died in 2015 at the age of 22. Whitney and Bobby had a tumultuous marriage for years and weathered accusations of domestic abuse and drug use. They separated in 2006 and ultimately divorced in April 2007.
Whitney struggled with addiction in the years that followed and voluntarily checked herself into (and out of) rehab. After a failed attempt at a comeback tour in 2010, she checked into rehab for a third time in 2011. She was just beginning a bit of a genuine comeback arc when she was found dead in her hotel room in February 2012.