Opinion: Whitney Houston’s Cause Of Death: Religion

Whitney Houston-I look to you

We recently shared news about the upcoming memoir penned by Robyn Crawford, the childhood friend, and confidant of Whitney Houston. Crawford and Houston were symbiotic, joined at the hip, and rumored to be far more than just friends as Houston rose to megastar status. Legendary songwriter and Houston’s friend Diane Warren publically spoke on the matter in response to the book. The alleged relationship is more than likely true, as many have alluded to being aware of it. In recent years, Houston’s ex-husband Bobby Brown confirmed he knew of the DL relationship, and it often created a conflict between him and his wife. 

As the story goes, Robyn was either ultimately banished by the Houston team or decided to leave the fray as Whitney seemed to spiral more out of control in the 90s; the drugs, the erratic behavior, the legendary Wendy Williams radio interview, and a reputation for missing engagements. Reports are Robyn had enough and moved on, unwilling to watch silently as her dear friend derailed her own spectacular career.

At the center of debate after Houston’s death remains the alleged conflict the star had with her sexuality, the relationship with her mother, and of course, the church. With that debate in mind, I shared the following post on Facebook two nights ago recalling the day I personally met Whitney and Robyn on the set of the “So Emotional” music video when I was a teenager.

“So heartbreaking. This thing called religion continues to torment, maim, and kill humans who should just be free to live their lives without persecution. Whitney would be alive right now if her mother told her, “I love you just the way you are my beautiful daughter.” 

I saw that interview with Cissy and Oprah after Whitney died. Oprah eluded to the connection between Whitney’s reported conflict with her sexuality and drug use as a coping mechanism. She asked Cissy if she would have accepted Whitney being gay?

Cissy’s answer stunned me. At that moment, her daughter was dead, potentially from a life of emotional torment over her true identity and the potential condemnation of the church, and yet Cissy still answered, “Yea, I would have had a problem with Whitney being gay.”

I saw that and thought, “Mmmmmm well, you have a bigger problem now with having a daughter who is dead. Is that better? She’s dead from spending her life using drugs and alcohol, trying to hide the pain and escape the judgment of Mama and “the church.”

I met Robyn and Whitney Houston when I was 16 years old on the set of the “So Emotional” video. It was filmed at the Stabler Arena in Lehigh Valley, PA. 

My friend Todd Tucker and I skipped school to go be an extra in the video, and a friend drove us nearly 4 hours from Trenton, NJ, to get there. Robyn was there on set along with famous producer Narada Michael Walden who is featured in the video.

We met Robyn and Whitney. I watched Robyn rub her feet, between takes. I saw Robyn go get Whitney’s food and make sure she ate during filming. I saw her massage Whitney’s shoulders as the Director changed the lights and changed set designs. I saw Whitney and Robyn huddled together in a corner laughing playfully, just the two of them, in the midst of all the chaos on the set happening around them. I am certain that day, I saw two women in love.”

The fact that Whitney came to Robyn with a Bible when she wanted to end the relationship is all you need to know about the pain “religion” can inflict on the human spirit that just wants to live.”

Some people pushed back against my assessment of religion, in particular, my fellow African Americans. In my opinion, those of us raised in the church are indoctrinated into its ideology. We flock to it as an extension of our familial ties, our ancestry, with God at the core of our survival from slavery to freedom. It’s ingrained in us and we feel obligated to stand up for it not always feeling fully accepted by it.

We cling to it, even though according to its teachings homosexuals are condemned as an abomination and assigned to death just for being our very selves. Everything is Sodom & Gomorrah, and distorted cheery picked lines from Leviticus, like “Man shall not lie with a man or burn in hell!” or something like that.  As a ‘loving religion,’ it does not evoke a sense of welcome by any stretch of the imagination.

That said, there are other members of the LGBT community who will still defend Christianity, even as they themselves are being condemned by it. I liken it to Stockholm syndrome in many ways, a construct by which the oppressed begins to empathize with their oppressors. 

When it comes to Whitney Houston’s death, all this leads me to ponder, was it religion and its fire and brimstone mandate against ‘sinners’ that caused the void in her life, leading to self-destruction that killed her in the end?

Robyn Crawford and Whitney Houston – Dutton Publishing

I no longer ask the question, “Would Whitney be alive today if Robyn was still in her life?” but rather, would Whitney still be alive today if she had not spent her life running from her truth in conflict with this thing called “religion.” 


This piece is an opinion piece by one Contributing Writer for Instinct Magazine and may not reflect the opinion of the magazine or other Contributing Writers.



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