Whitney Houston's best friend confirms 'physical' relationship after years of speculation

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Robyn Crawford is breaking her silence.

Whitney Houston's life-long best friend, who has been at the center of decades of speculation surrounding the singer's sexuality and love life, is opening up about their close friendship for the first time in a new memoir called "A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston."

Excerpted exclusively in People, the book confirms rumors that the two were engaged in a romantic relationship, albeit briefly, in the early '80s, right after Houston signed her record deal with Clive Davis at Arista.

"We wanted to be together," Crawford declared. "And that meant just us."

It was Whitney who decided that their relationship couldn't be physical anymore, telling her best friend in 1982 that it would make her launch into the stratosphere as an internationally-beloved superstar that much more difficult.

"She said we shouldn't be physical anymore because it would make our journey even more difficult," her friend says in her memoir. "She said it people find out about us, they would use this against us, and back in the '80s that's how it felt."

"I kept it safe," Crawford added. "I found comfort in my silence."

"A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston" by Robyn Crawford ($19.60)

It wasn't just the general public and legions of fans whose vitriol Houston and Crawford were avoiding: There were also negative opinions about their relationship from those closest to the pair, most notably from Whitney's family.

"Whitney told me her mother said it wasn't natural for two women to be that close," Crawford says of gospel singer Cissy Houston. "But we were that close."

33 PHOTOS
Whitney Houston's Style Transformation
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Whitney Houston's Style Transformation
Whitney Houston performs in concert on July 1, 1984 at The Limelight in New York City, sporting a short crop and a chic black dress.
Whitney performs in Indiana wearing a funky fringed dress.
Houston takes over the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in an all-white ensemble with bold, fluffy shoulders.
Whitney attended a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., draped in fur.
Houston wore a radiant blue gown to the Grammy Awards.
Attending the "Americana" Concert, Whitney wore this dress with subtle polka dots.
Singer Whitney sparkled at the Grammy Awards with this bold-shouldered navy top and white skirt.
Whitney wore bright colors to the 15th annual American Music Awards.
At the 30th annual Grammy Awards, Whitney looked elegant in a slim-fitting embellished dress.
Here at the American Music Awards, her LBD was perfectly accessorized: with two awards!
Whitney attended the "Sammy Davis, Jr. 60th Anniversary Celebration" television special, and we're sensing a serious trend in her life: sparkles.

Whitney looked elegant in this white wrap dress at the United Negro College Fund's 46th Annual Awards dinner.

Whitney glittered in this gold gown, wearing matching gold shoes and simple jewelry.
Whitney attended the Essence awards in a textured white top and matching skirt.
Houston attended the Carousel of Hope Ball in a shimmering gold wrap dress.
Whitney rocks leather pants to the Billboard Music Awards.
For the 1992 Carousel of Hope Ball Whitney chose a dress that embraced three trends: sheer fabrics, velvet, and embellished accents.
It was red lace from head-to-toe for Whitney at the 1993 Billboard Music Awards.
Whitney looked overjoyed to win Outstanding Female Arist at the NAACP Image Awards with a bold collar and cuffs.
Whitney wore a brightly colored shawl over her lavender dress to a pre-Grammy Awards party.
Whitney, Bobby Brown and their daughter Bobbi were a matching trio at an awards ceremony in Beverly Hills.
Whitney looked ravishing in red at a pre-party for the Grammy Awards, here pictured with Clive Davis.
Whitney beams in a bubblegum pink dress at the Grammys, sporting a matching fur stole.
Houston poses for the cameras at the VH1 Divas Duets concert in a halter-style gown.
Whitney wore this victorian blouse with a silk skirt.
Performing at BET's silver anniversary celebration, Whitney wore this ruched black dress with a plunging neckline.
Whitney was the epitome of elegance at the 2007 Clive Davis Pre-GRAMMY Awards Party.
Whitney performed at the AmFar Benefit Concert in New York City,wearing flattering vertical stripes and sheer sleeves.
Whitney attends the Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Party again, sparkling in a crystal-embellished dress.
This dress had a tie-dye feel, with a flattering sweetheart neckline.
Simple in color but statement-making in shape, this dress Whitney wore to the AMA's was stunning.
Whitney looked great in this little black dress.
Lovely ladies: Whitney and her daughter Bobbi at a pre-Grammy party.
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Houston's husband, Bobby Brown, said in his 2017 memoir, "Every Little Step: My Story," that his wife was bisexual and he knew that.

"We were married for 14 years," he said at the time. There are some things we talked about that were personal to us."

Over the years, however, Crawford said that she and Whitney "never talked about labels, like lesbian or gay."

"We just lived our lives and I hoped it could go on that way forever," she said. "Whitney knows I loved her and I know she loved me. We really meant everything to each other. We vowed to stand by each other."

Crawford and Houston first met as camp counselors in East Orange, New Jersey in 1980, when Crawford (now 58) was 19 and Houston was 16. As she says in "A Song For You," Crawford had the singer's back immediately, telling her, "I'm going to look out for you."

Houston died back on February 11, 2012, from "drowning and effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use," the L.A. County Coroner ruled. Seven years after her tragic death, Crawford said that she realized it was time for her to speak out on the beauty of their decades-long relationship.

"I’d come to the point where I felt the need to stand up for our friendship," she said of writing her memoir. "And I felt an urgency to stand up and share the woman behind the incredible talent."

"I wanted to lift her legacy, give her respect and share the story of who she was before the fame, and in that, to embrace our friendship," she added.

As for Brown, he thinks that his late wife's friendship with Crawford as so impactful and so important to her that, if Whitney's family had accepted the true nature of their bond, the singer would still be with us.

"I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney's life, Whitney would still be alive today," he said.

Robyn Crawford now shares two children with her partner Lisa Hintlemann.

"A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston" will be released on November 12, 2019. Pre-order it here.

54 PHOTOS
Whitney Houston through the years
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Whitney Houston through the years
Singer Whitney Houston photographed in February 1982 when she was a senior in high school (her first session with a professional photographer). (Photo by Jack Mitchell/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, Whitney Houston, and Cissy Houston posing for a group photo, San Francisco, California, 1980. (Photo by Clarence Gatson/Gado/Getty Images)
Singer Whitney Houston photographed in February 1982 when she was a senior in high school (her first session with a professional photographer). (Photo by Jack Mitchell/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - 1984: Pop singer Whitney Houston performing in 1984 in New York, New York. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - 1985: (L-R) American singer Whitney Houston with President of Arista Records Clive Davis at an event to celebrate Whitney's debut album 'Whitney Houston' receiving a multi-platinum sales award in 1985 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Carrette Archive/Getty Images)
American singer Whitney Houston (1963 - 2012) in concert, circa 1986. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 1986: Singer Whitney Houston at Grammy Awards in February 1986 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
BOSTON - JULY 29: Whitney Houston in concert on July 29, 1986, on Boston Common. (Photo by Keith Jenkins/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Whitney Houston and Cissy Houston (Photo by Larry Busacca/WireImage)
American singer Whitney Houston (1963 - 2012), circa 1987. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 1987: Singer Whitney Houston performs at the Assembly Hall at the University Of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Champaign, Illinois in NOVEMBER 1987. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 25: Singer Whitney Houston, mother Cissy Houston and half-brother Gary Garland attend the 15th annual American Music Awards on January 25, 1988 at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
FRANCE - MAY 18: Whitney Houston Performs In Paris Bercy On May 18th, 1988 In Paris,France (Photo by Frederic REGLAIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - FEBRUARY 25: Singer Whitney Houston and mother Cissy Houston attend the Frank Bruno vs. Mike Tyson Heavyweight Boxing Match on February 25, 1989 at the Las Vegas Hilton in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 15: Singer Whitney Houston and comedian/actor Eddie Murphy attend the United Negro College Fund's 10th Annual 'Lou Rawls Parade of Stars' Telethon Kick-Off Party on November 15, 1989 at L'Ermitage in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - MAY 30: Singer Whitney Houston attends the 21st Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Awards Dinner on May 30, 1990 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Whitney Houston (Photo by Larry Busacca/WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Pictured: (l-r) Singer Whitney Houston, guest host Jay Leno on December 11, 1990 (Photo by Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - 1991: Singer and actress Whitney Houston sings the National Anthem at the 1991 Tampa, Florida, Superbowl XXV. Houston's rendition of the National Anthem was particularly inspiring due to the fact that Superbowl XXV (25) was held as the first Gulf War began.(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
TINLEY PARK, IL - JUNE 1991: Singer Whitney Houston performs at the World Music Theater in Tinley Park, Illinois in JUNE 1991. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
PROVIDENCE - JULY 17: Whitney Houston in concert on July 17, 1991. (Photo by Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
American singer Whitney Houston (1963 - 2012) watches a World Cup soccer match, 1994. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Whitney Houston (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
American singer and actress Whitney Houston (1963 - 2012) stars with Denzel Washington in the film 'The Preacher's Wife', 1996. (Photo by Fotos International/Getty Images)
Whitney Houston performs on stage in 1996. (Photo by Phil Dent/Redferns)
Whitney Houston, Sängerin, Auftritt, Mikrophon, Promis, Prominente, Prominenter, (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 12: Whitney Houston is joined by her husband, singer Bobby Brown, at ceremonies in East Orange, N.J., where the Franklin School was renamed the Whitney E. Houston Academy of Creative and Performing Arts. (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE -JULY 6: Whitney Houston performing at Paris Bercy concert hall on June 6, 1998 in Paris, France. (Photo by Alain BENAINOUS/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - NOVEMBER 30: Arista Records president Clive Davis and singer Whitney Houston attend amfAR's First Annual Season of Hope Awards to Honor Clive Davis, Tom Hanks and Barbara Walters on November 30, 1998 at the World Financial Center in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 16: BRIT AWARDS, LONDON ARENA Photo of Whitney HOUSTON, Whitney Houston performing on stage (Photo by JMEnternational/Redferns)
Whitney Houston and Mary J. Blige perform at VH1 Divas Conert at Beacon Theater. (Photo By: Richard Corkery/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
Whitney Houston, Whitney Houston (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)
Bobby Brown & Whitney Houston (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Whitney Houston (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Whitney Houston (Photo by Kevin Kane/WireImage)
Whitney Houston and Mary J. Blige perform on the 'VH1 Divas Las Vegas', a concert to benefit the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, 5/23/02. Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 8: Musician Whitney Houston performs live for an NBC show December 8, 2002 at Lincoln Center in New York City. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - MAY 22: Singers Whitney Houston and husband Bobby Brown attend the VH1 Divas Duets post concert party to benefit the VH1 Save the Music Foundation held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 22, 2003 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM - MAY 27: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (R) welcomes singer Whitney Houston (L) and her husband/singer, Bobby Brown (C), at the prime minister's residence May 27, 2003 in Jerusalem, Israel. Houston is on a private tour of Israel. (Photo by Quique Kierszenbaum/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV ? SEPTEMBER 15: Singer Whitney Houston is seen performing on stage during the 2004 World Music Awards at the Thomas and Mack Center on September 15, 2004 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 26: Singer-actress Whitney Houston onstage during the taping of '25 Strong: The BET Silver Anniversary Celebration' at The Shrine auditorium in Los Angeles, California. The event highlighted 25 years of programming on Black Entertainment Television. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
Usher, Clive Davis and Whitney Houston (Photo by M. Caulfield/WireImage)
US singer Whitney Houston performs on May 24 , 2008 in Rabat during the closing concert in the Mawazine 7th festival held in Rabat. AFP PHOTO/ABDELHAK SENNA (Photo credit should read ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 07: Whitney Houston performs at the 2009 GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons honoring Clive Davis at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 7, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Singer Whitney Houston onstage at the 51st Annual GRAMMY Awards held at the Staples Center on February 8, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 01: Diane Sawyer, Whitney Houston and Robin Roberts perform on ABC's 'Good Morning America' on September 1, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Singer Whitney Houston accepts the Winner of International - Favorite Artist Award onstage at the 2009 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
MOSCOW - DECEMBER 9: Singer Whitney Houston performs on stage at Olympisky Sports Complex on December 9, 2009 in Moscow, Russia. Moscow is the first city in her world-wide 2009-2010 tour. (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24: Whitney Houston performs on stage at Acer Arena on February 24, 2010 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Whitney Houston and daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown arrive at the Clive Davis and The Recording Acedemy's Annual Pre-Grammy Gala held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 12, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)
Singer Whitney Houston performs at the 2011 Clive Davis Pre–Grammy Gala and Salute to Industry Icons Honoring David Geffen at the Beverly Hilton. (Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 09: Whitney Houston and Kelly Price share the stage at the Kelly Price & Friends Unplugged: For The Love Of R&B GRAMMY Party at Tru Hollywood on February 9, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
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