The documentary Whitney: Can I Be Me, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival last week, suggests that Whitney Houston’s self-destruction was tied to her parting ways with Robyn Crawford. Filmmaker Rudi Dolezal said at the film’s premiere,
“Robyn was probably the only person, at least that I met, who completely understood Whitney. She was her confidante and that was the source of the friction and dilemma Whitney was in.“
Friend Ellin Lavar says in the film,
“I don’t think [Whitney] was gay, I think she was bisexual. Robyn loved her… in that Whitney found safety and solace.“
Dolezal, who made the movie with award-winning documentarian, Nick Broomfield, knew Houston and had filmed the singer and actress throughout her life an it includes many interviews with close associates and friends who speak openly about her sexuality.
Broomfield said of the family,
The two women met in New Jersey as teenagers and stayed close as she rose to superstardom. After Houston married Brown in 1992 things got tense. Her former bodyguard David Roberts says in the movie,
“We didn’t want to do anything to upset them, that was never the intention. They were aggressive and sent emails to people telling them not to take part. I just ignored what the estate was doing. You carry on and make the story that you find most compelling.“
“They’d battle for her affections. Bobby and Robyn had some physical altercations and there were times he wasn’t always the winner.“
But in 1999, pressure from husband Brown and other family members led to the two women parting ways. Lavar says,
“That was the downfall of Whitney. Robyn was the person who was keeping her together.”
According to a review of the film in The Hollywood Reporter,
Dolezal’s close-up concert footage is also a joyous reminder of Houston’s effortlessly engaging stage presence and soaring, octave-vaulting, transcendently soulful voice. We are left with a powerful sense that her death was a tragic loss, both privately and publicly, but Can I Be Me never quite tells us why.
Bobby Brown, Whitney’s mother, Cissy Houston, nor Crawford participated in the film and have declined to comment about it. Whitney: Can I Be Me will air on Showtime in August.
The idea of her not being able to be herself kinda breaks your heart. It makes me think of one of her greatest performances, I Have Nothing. Except maybe it wasn’t her Bodyguard or Bobby that she was really singing about…
(via Gay Star News)
UPDATE: After posting this on Facebook, a friend Timothy Dean Lee had this comment about the legendary Paradise Garage, a gay after-hours dance club in NYC;
“Robyn and Whitney were one of the couples you always knew you were gonna have a good time dancing with at the Paradise Garage. On several occasion they would have some of us meet them at the Cubbyhole [famous lesbian bar] before going to the Garage. It was what drove Whitney’s mother crazy. Sissy was more concerned about how Whitney’s homosexuality would affect Sissy’s gospel career rather than her daughter’s happiness. I’ve always blamed Sissy for Whitney’s death. Many of us did. Sure Whitney and Robyn smoked an occasional joint with us, but she didn’t get into the hard drugs until she married Bobby Brown.“