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Robyn Crawford breaks silence about relationship with Whitney Houston in new memoir

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Houston and Crawford in a still from the 2018 documentary “Whitney” (Image courtesy Lafayette Films/Passion Pictures)

After years of choosing not to comment on speculation surrounding her relationship with singer Whitney Houston, the late singer’s best friend Robyn Crawford is speaking out about it for the first time in her upcoming book, “A Song for You: My Life With Whitney Houston.”

In an excerpt from the book published today by People magazine, Crawford alleges that she and Houston were lovers, something that has been rumored since before the singer’s death in 2012 at the age of 48.

The pair met as teenagers at a summer camp in 1980, and – according to Crawford – went on to begin a physical relationship, which was then cut short when Houston signed a record deal with Clive Davis at Arista.

 “She said we shouldn’t be physical anymore because it would make our journey even more difficult,” Crawford writes in the book. “She said if people find out about us, they would use this against us and back in the ’80s that’s how it felt.”

Nevertheless, the two of them remained friends, with Crawford explaining, “I kept it safe. I found comfort in my silence.”

Crawford also alleges that Houston’s mother Cissy voiced disapproval of a same-sex relationship between the two.

“Whitney told me her mother said it wasn’t natural for two women to be that close, but we were that close,” she writes.

Following her daughter’s death, Cissy Houston told Oprah Winfrey that she would have “absolutely had a problem” with her daughter being gay.

The singer went on to marry R&B artist Bobby Brown, with whom she had daughter Bobbi Kristina in 1993. The couple divorced in 2007.

Brown told US Weekly in in 2016, that Houston was bisexual, and added,“I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney’s life [by others], Whitney would still be alive today.”

When director Kevin MacDonald was developing his 2018 documentary about the singer, there were initial discussions with Crawford about participation in the production, but she eventually declined.

However, the filmmaker has talked about how Houston’s family generally characterized the two women as lovers.

“I think it’s fairly obvious when you talk to the family and friends,” Macdonald said. “Nobody is denying that Whitney and Robyn had a physical relationship – a sexual relationship,”

“They were partners for a number of years. My understanding is that relationship was over in a romantic sense by the mid-’80s when Whitney became a big star.”

As for why she decided to come forward so many years after Whitney’s tragic death, Crawford writes, “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.”

The book drops on November 12.

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Photos

PHOTOS: Baltimore Pride Parade

Thousands attend annual LGBTQ march and block party

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A scene from the 2024 Baltimore Pride Parade. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Baltimore Pride Parade and Block Party was held on Charles Street in Baltimore, Md. on Saturday, June 15. 

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Sports

Washington Mystics to hold annual Pride game

Team to play Dallas Wings on Saturday

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Mystics will be having their upcoming Pride game on Saturday against the Dallas Wings.

The Mystics Pride game is one of the team’s theme nights they host every year, with Pride night being a recurring event. The team faced off against the Phoenix Mercury last June. Brittney Griner, who Russia released from a penal colony in December 2022 after a court convicted her of importing illegal drugs after customs officials at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage, attended the game. 

Unlike the NBA, where there are currently no openly LGBTQ players, there are multiple WNBA players who are out. Mystics players Emily Englster, Brittney Sykes, and Stefanie Dolson are all queer.

The Mystics on June 1 acknowledged Pride Month in a post to its X account.

“Celebrating Pride this month and every month,” reads the message.

The game is on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Entertainment and Sports Arena (1100 Oak Drive, S.E.). Fans can purchase special Pride tickets that come with exclusive Mystics Pride-themed jerseys. 

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Theater

Queers win big at 77th annual Tony Awards

‘Merrily We Roll Along’ among winners

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(Photo courtesy of the Tony Awards' Facebook page)

It was a banner night for queer theater artists at the 77th annual Tony Awards, honoring the best in Broadway theater at the Lincoln Center in New York on Sunday. Some of the biggest honors of the night went to the revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Merrily We Roll Along” and the dance-musical based on Sufjan Stephens’ album “Illinoise.

“Merrily We Roll Along,” which follows three friends as their lives change over the course of 20 years, told in reverse chronological order, picked up the awards for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Orchestrations. 

Out actor Jonathan Groff picked up his first Tony Award for his leading role as Franklin Shepard in the show, while his costar Daniel Radcliffe earned his first Tony Award for featured performance as Charley Kringas. 

Groff gave a heartfelt and teary acceptance speech about how he used to watch the Tony Awards as a child in Lancaster County, Pa.

“Thank you for letting me dress up like Mary Poppins when I was three,” he said to his parents in the audience. “Even if they didn’t understand me, my family knew the life-saving power of fanning the flame of a young person’s passions without judgment.”

Groff also thanked the everyone in the production of “Spring Awakening,” where he made his Broadway debut in 2006, for inspiring him to come out at the age of 23.

“To actually be able to be a part of making theatre in this city, and just as much to be able to watch the work of this incredible community has been the greatest pleasure of my life,” he said. 

This was Groff’s third Tony nomination, having been previously nominated for his leading role in “Spring Awakening” and for his featured performance as King George III in “Hamilton.” 

Radcliffe, who is best known for starring in the “Harry Potter” series of movies, has long been an ally of the LGBTQ community, and has recently been known to spar with “Harry Potter” creator JK Rowling over her extreme opposition to trans rights on social media and in interviews. It was Radcliffe’s first Tony nomination and win.

Lesbian icon Sarah Paulson won her first Tony Award for her starring role in the play “Appropriate,” about a family coming to terms with the legacy of their slave-owning ancestors as they attempt to sell their late father’s estate. It was her first nomination and win.

In her acceptance speech, she thanked her partner Holland Taylor “for loving me.” Along with Paulson’s Emmy win for “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” she is halfway to EGOT status.

The Sufjan Stephens dance-musical “Illinoise,” based on his album of the same name, took home the award for Best Choreography for choreographer Justin Peck. It was his second win.

During the ceremony, the cast of “Illinoise” performed “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us!”, a moving dance number about a queer romance.

A big winner of the night was the adaptation of the S.E. Hinton novel “The Outsiders,” which dominated the musical categories, earning Best Director, Sound Design, Lighting Design, and Best Musical, which earned LGBTQ ally Angelina Jolie her first Tony Award.

Also a big winner was “Stereophonic,” which dominated the play categories, winning the awards for Best Play, Featured Actor, Director, Sound Design, and Scenic Design.

“Suffs,” a musical about the fight for women’s suffrage in the U.S., which acknowledges the lesbian relationship that suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt had in song called “If We Were Married,” took home awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Score, both for creator Shaina Taub. 

Had “Suffs” also won for Best Musical, producers Hilary Clinton and Malala Yousafzai would have won their first Tony Awards. 

Other winners include Maleah Joi Moon for her lead role and Kecia Lewis for her featured role in the Alicia Keys musical “Hell’s Kitchen,” Jeremy Strong for his lead role in An Enemy of the People, and Kara Young for her featured role in “Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch.”

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