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Whitney Houston's Best Friend Confirms They Were Lovers

Robyn Crawford has confirmed she was intimate with her childhood friend and confidante, the late Whitney Houston, in her new book.

Crawford's memoir, A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston, is the first time she has opened up about the extent of their decades-long relationship.

Crawford, 63, was hounded for years to publicly share details of her friendship with Houston -- who drowned in a Beverly Hills hotel bathroom in 2012, with a cocktail of drugs in her system -- but resisted until now.

“I watched her rise to the top of her game, and I felt compelled to share who that woman was behind all of that fame," Crawford said on the U.S. Today show on Thursday.

"I never envisioned speaking publicly about my life. And then I asked myself the question: What would Whitney want?"

"I never envisioned speaking publicly about my life. And then I asked myself the question: What would Whitney want?" Crawford told 'Today' on Thursday local time. Image: NBC

According to Crawford, their love affair began in 1980 when they worked as summer camp counsellors. Houston, almost 17, invited Crawford, 19, over to her house in Newark, New Jersey one day where they "talked and talked".

“And then all of a sudden, we were face to face. The first kiss was long and slow, like honey," wrote Crawford.

"As we eased out of it, my nerves shot up and my heart beat furiously. Something was happening between us.”

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She later told PEOPLE: “We never talked about labels, like lesbian or gay. We just lived our lives and I hoped it could go on that way forever.”

A blossoming relationship was ill-fated, with Houston putting a stop to their physical intimacy around the time she signed with Clive Davis at Arista Records in 1982.

In her memoir, Crawford recalled Houston presented her with a Bible, and told her that people would use their relationship against them.

Whitney Houston in February 1982, when she was in high school. Image: Getty

“She said we shouldn’t be physical anymore because it would make our journey even more difficult,” Crawford wrote.

"Whitney told me her mother said it wasn’t natural for two women to be that close, but we were that close.… She said if people find out about us, they would use this against us, and back in the ’80s that’s how it felt."

Houston's mother, soul and gospel singer Cissy Houston, spoke with Oprah Winfrey in 2013. She said it would "absolutely" have bothered her if her daughter was gay, and she would never have condoned it.

Crawford remained Houston's best friend as she rose to international fame, and the bond the ladies shared was even recognised by Houston's former husband, Bobby Brown, in his own 2016 memoir.

“I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney’s life, Whitney would still be alive today,” Brown wrote.

“She didn’t have close friends with her anymore.”

In her memoir, Crawford said she believed Houston's daughter with Brown, Bobbi Kristina, knew about their relationship.

“I feel in my heart that Whitney told her daughter what kind of person I am and the depths of our friendship," Crawford wrote.

At the age of 22, Bobbi Kristina's life met a tragic ending similar to her mother's. She died in July 2015 from pneumonia after she was found unresponsive in a bathtub and put into a medically induced coma for six months.

Whitney Houston remains one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with 200 millions records sold worldwide. She has been nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2020.

Contact the author: samelia@networkten.com.au