Whitney Houston's best friend confirms 'physical' relationship after years of speculation

Robyn Crawford is breaking her silence.

Whitney Houston's life-long best friend, who has been at the center of decades of speculation surrounding the singer's sexuality and love life, is opening up about their close friendship for the first time in a new memoir called "A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston."

Excerpted exclusively in People, the book confirms rumors that the two were engaged in a romantic relationship, albeit briefly, in the early '80s, right after Houston signed her record deal with Clive Davis at Arista.

"We wanted to be together," Crawford declared. "And that meant just us."

It was Whitney who decided that their relationship couldn't be physical anymore, telling her best friend in 1982 that it would make her launch into the stratosphere as an internationally-beloved superstar that much more difficult.

"She said we shouldn't be physical anymore because it would make our journey even more difficult," her friend says in her memoir. "She said it people find out about us, they would use this against us, and back in the '80s that's how it felt."

"I kept it safe," Crawford added. "I found comfort in my silence."

"A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston" by Robyn Crawford ($19.60)

It wasn't just the general public and legions of fans whose vitriol Houston and Crawford were avoiding: There were also negative opinions about their relationship from those closest to the pair, most notably from Whitney's family.

"Whitney told me her mother said it wasn't natural for two women to be that close," Crawford says of gospel singer Cissy Houston. "But we were that close."

Houston's husband, Bobby Brown, said in his 2017 memoir, "Every Little Step: My Story," that his wife was bisexual and he knew that.

"We were married for 14 years," he said at the time. There are some things we talked about that were personal to us."

Over the years, however, Crawford said that she and Whitney "never talked about labels, like lesbian or gay."

"We just lived our lives and I hoped it could go on that way forever," she said. "Whitney knows I loved her and I know she loved me. We really meant everything to each other. We vowed to stand by each other."

Crawford and Houston first met as camp counselors in East Orange, New Jersey in 1980, when Crawford (now 58) was 19 and Houston was 16. As she says in "A Song For You," Crawford had the singer's back immediately, telling her, "I'm going to look out for you."

Houston died back on February 11, 2012, from "drowning and effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use," the L.A. County Coroner ruled. Seven years after her tragic death, Crawford said that she realized it was time for her to speak out on the beauty of their decades-long relationship.

"I’d come to the point where I felt the need to stand up for our friendship," she said of writing her memoir. "And I felt an urgency to stand up and share the woman behind the incredible talent."

"I wanted to lift her legacy, give her respect and share the story of who she was before the fame, and in that, to embrace our friendship," she added.

As for Brown, he thinks that his late wife's friendship with Crawford as so impactful and so important to her that, if Whitney's family had accepted the true nature of their bond, the singer would still be with us.

"I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney's life, Whitney would still be alive today," he said.

Robyn Crawford now shares two children with her partner Lisa Hintlemann.

"A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston" will be released on November 12, 2019. Pre-order it here.