The new documentary Whitney: Can I Be Me, about the late Whitney Houston made its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. The documentary taps into Whitney’s relationship with long time friend, Robyn Crawford.
“I don’t think she was gay, I think she was bisexual,” Houston’s longtime friend and stylist Ellin Lavar says in the film. Lavar adds: “Robyn provided a safe place for her…in that Whitney found safety and solace.”
According to People mag, the film shows that the late Houston, who first met Crawford as a teen in East Orange, New Jersey and was later married to Bobby Brown for 15 years from 1992–2007, was often in the middle of a contentious relationship between her husband and Crawford.
By the end of the 90’s, tensions between Robyn and Bobby had reached a breaking point.
“Robyn and Whitney were like twins,” says Kevin Ammons, who worked security for Houston. “They were inseparable. They had a bond and Bobby Brown could never remove Robyn. He wanted to be the man in the relationship.”
“Bobby Brown and Robyn Crawford were like fire and ice. They hated each other,” says David Roberts, Whitney’s former bodyguard, on whom The Bodyguard was loosely based.
The films opens with the fraught 911 call that alerted the world to Houston’s death at the Beverly Hilton in February 2012, at the age of just 48, Can I Be Me then scrolls back to her early life in New Jersey. Mentored by her proud mother, gospel singer Emily “Cissy” Houston, she soon excelled as a soloist in her local Baptist church choir. A spell as a teenage model and backing vocalist led her to Clive Davis of Arista Records, who carefully molded the young star for maximum appeal to mainstream white audiences. And so began a record-smashing, Grammy-winning career that spanned world tours, blockbuster movies and close to 200 million album sales.