Was Whitney Houston a Lesbian? And Should We Care?

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Although Whitney Houston has just barely been buried, the avalanche of stories about her life don’t appear to be stopping any time soon. Though most of the early pieces about her death focused on her years of addiction and her troubled marriage to Bobby Brown, The Daily Beast’s Tricia Romano reported on a lesser-known Whitney story: her supposed lesbianism.

For years, rumors went around that Whitney was dating her friend and personal assistant, Robyn Crawford. The rumor was that Whitney’s mom, Cissy Houston, forced her daughter to marry Bobby in order to squash the rumors once and for all. Crawford has mostly stayed out of the spotlight since then, although she did offer some words of condolence upon Whitney’s death.

Several columnists have used this opportunity to paint Whitney as a thwarted lesbian whose descent into drug abuse and addiction is all the result of being forced to give up the one person she really loved. Others tell a similar story but blame her religious beliefs for making her think that being in love with a woman was wrong. While those are both pretty good storylines for the inevitable biopic starring Jennifer Hudson, they’re a big pile of speculation. It’s hard to know how Whitney felt, because she didn’t talk about it, and now she’s not here to tell us. Considering that following her divorce from Bobby Whitney began dating Ray J, the argument could be made that she was bisexual. Sexuality exists on a continuum, and there are a lot of options besides “totally straight” and “totally gay.” We have no idea where Whitney fell on this spectrum.

When people die, especially when they die young and tragically, everyone is desperate to find an answer. Saying “she did drugs because of X” is a way of tying up the loose ends, of making us think that this couldn’t happen to us because we’re not currently dealing with X in our own lives. Maybe Whitney was a lesbian who spent her whole life regretting that she wasn’t with Robyn. Maybe she was a bisexual woman who fell in love with several people in her life. Maybe she was something else. Either way, basing her death on who she did or didn’t love isn’t going to change the fact that she’s gone.