Nafessa Williams stars as Robyn Crawford and Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston in I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Photo: Emily Aragones / TriStar Pictures)
The recently released film, I Wanna Dance With Somebody is the latest biopic to highlight the iconic singer’s life. The film looks at Whitney Houston’s career – and touches on her bisexuality.
She was The Diva, the Queen of Song and an uncontested gay icon. Whitney Houston blasted onto the music scene in the 1980s with her distinctive, octave smashing voice.
She was the darling of the music industry. In her fans’ eyes she could do no wrong, even after her drug use came to light later on in her career. Her avid supporters were there for her highs, lows, recovery and comeback. And were devastated by her tragic and disturbing death in a hotel bathtub after an overdose.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody takes a look at the songstress’s life and briefly goes as far as highlighting her relationship with her lover, friend and assistant, Robyn Crawford.
Crawford and Houston met when Houston was 16 and the pair soon became inseparable, moving in together. Even after Whitney achieved fame and fortune, they continued to share a home.
The rumour mill began to roll out the story that Whitney Houston was a lesbian and that she and Crawford were in a long-term relationship.
Both denied this at the time, however, Crawford later came out with a book – A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston – that confirmed that she and the pop diva did indeed have a relationship, and it started when they were in their teens.
Because of pressure from her mother and her religious upbringing, Whitney chose to hide her sexuality. It was also a different time, when coming out as a pop star could mean the end of her career.
According to Crawford’s biography, she and Houston had a romantic relationship that lasted two years while they were in their teens. Crawford explained how Houston broke off their relationship just before signing a record deal, allegedly handing her former lover a bible and telling her she was afraid of being exposed.
“We wanted to be together. She said we shouldn’t be physical anymore, because it would make our journey even more difficult,” wrote Crawford.
The film stars Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston and Nafessa Williams as Robyn Crawford. It depicts their young relationship and subsequent breakup as romantic partners after Houston slept with Jermaine Jackson.
“It’s just the deepest connection I think that Whitney experienced.”
It also show’s Houston’s father and manager, John, trying to stop Crawford from becoming her assistant because of their relationship, even telling Crawford to go on dates with men, which she refuses to do.
In fact, Crawford refused to leave Houston’s life and stuck around as her assistant.
“The thing I loved about her relationship with Robyn is that it’s just the deepest connection I think that Whitney experienced,” Ackie told EW. “That love that they shared, changed and morphed over time as they got older, but the love never changed.”
Crawford watched helplessly as the star descended into drug abuse and spiralled out of control, finally ending in Houston’s tragic death.
While I Wanna Dance With Somebody only skips over their relationship, there is no doubt much more to it than what has been written about or shown on screen. The full truth of their relationship, however, lies only between Houston and Crawford.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody is in South African cinemas now.