Rosie O'Donnell: Whitney Houston Was 'Conflicted' by Sexual Orientation

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday March 25, 2021

Rosie O'Donnell said Whitney Houston had a "conflicted" relationship with her sexuality, according to the New York Post.

The comedian, actress and longtime talk show host appeared on the "Hot Takes and Deep Dives" podcast on Monday where, among other issues, she talked about her relationship with Houston, who died in February 2012 at age 48. Houston was found dead in the bath of her Beverly Hilton Hotel room in a drug-related accidental drowning.

"Whitney was troubled by, I think, the gay part of her life and didn't want it exposed," O'Donnell said.

"It's hard in black culture to accept gayness. It's culturally more difficult, I think.

"And the church... the Baptist Church weighed heavily on her... Growing up in the church and singing gospel, [for Houston] I think that there was a lot of conflict about that."

O'Donnell said she recalled meeting Robyn Crawford, a childhood friend of Houston's, at a party in New York, saying it was understood the two were romantic partners. Crawford said as much in her 2019 memoir, "A Song for You: My Life With Whitney Houston." In her book, Crawford said their relationship became platonic when Houston signed to Arista Records in 1983.

Houston was married to pop singer Bobby Brown from 1992 to 2007. Houston and Brown's tumultuous marriage and drug use received a lot of media attention. In his 2016 memoir, "Every Little Step: My Story," Brown said he knew Houston was bisexual. Houston never confirmed her sexual orientation while she was alive.

O'Donnell also discussed "The Bodyguard" star's struggle with drugs, and how Houston pulled a no-show on O'Donnell's popular daytime talk show in the 1997. Houston was going to promote her television adaptation of "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella," in which she co-starred with pop singer Brandy, but backed out 45 minutes beforehand.

O'Donnell said Houston "was, at that time, really in a downward spiral with drugs, and it was obvious to anyone who was watching her.

"She didn't show up. So I said to her crew, 'This is all on all of you. Because when she dies, everyone is going to ask why you didn't do something.' "

Crawford, O'Donnell said, "had written me and told me that was a very big day for them — the crew around her — to think that they had to make inroads to try to help her, and sadly, they didn't. Or couldn't."

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.