Whitney’s Funeral to be Livestreamed Saturday from New Hope Baptist Church…and More

Outside of New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, where Whitney Houston's funeral will take place Saturday afternoon, February 18 (Courtesy: Daily Mail via Getty Images)

Yes, I have enough on my plate these days, but don’t ever say that I don’t try. 

The late diva Whitney Houston’s funeral will take place at the church where her talent was discovered and nurtured, New Hope Baptist Church, in Newark, New Jersey.  Her body was flown back  to New Jersey on a private plane owned by entertainment mogul Tyler Perry on Monday.  She will be buried next to her father, John Russell Houston, Jr.  in Fair View Cemetary in nearby Westfield.  From the CBC.ca:

Whitney Houston’s funeral will be livestreamed, to satisfy the desire of fans to grieve alongside family members at the Saturday memorial.

The Associated Press announced Wednesday that it will carry a live feed of the invitation-only funeral on livestream.com/aplive.

Houston’s family has asked for privacy, but large crowds are still expected to gather outside Newark’s New Hope Baptist Church, where the late singer performed as a child. Police have met with church officials to discuss crowd control.

Fans are also calling for a public memorial.

Not sure whether they are going to get that last one.  Someone is going to have to independently stage it.   Unlike the Jacksons, the Houstons are not even sanctioning a wake for her fans.  The Houstons were not an entertainment family like the Jacksons, although Cissy and Whitney were popular (and gospel) singers.  It is almost as if the family is saying to hell with the fans, with the cult of celebrity, with the tabloids, they’ve chewed up and spit out our baby.  I cannot say that I don’t altogether blame them.  Especially when I read things like this.

Houston’s mother, Cissy, was at the funeral home until 2 a.m. on Tuesday (my itals). She insisted the funeral must take place in a church.

Reads like Katherine Jackson‘s vigils with Michael’s body before and after he was buried.

Which meant that any initial speculation about the family having the funeral at a large venue seating thousands of people—thousands of people who did not really know Cissy’s little girl—was seeing the send-off as show-biz, and not something that had to be intimate, personal and meaningful. 

That’s why the family consented to the Associated Press cameras which will be trained on the proceedings.  It is said that there will be jumbotrons or large television screens set up outside of the church for those who will be standing outside.   And there will be hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who will be outside.

The funeral is by invitation only and anyone who is not on the list and is not invited will be ushered out on no uncertain terms.   Approximately 1500 close family and friends will pack the church.  Aretha reportedly will be there to sing for her goddaughter.

The funeral will begin at noon, Eastern Standard Time.  That will be 11 a.m. Central Time, and 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time in the United States.  So get yourselves to livestream.com/aplive at those times.  Pay up your WiFi or high speed internet connection.   If it is possible, I may be able to grab the feed and produce it here.

 So what is the more I was speaking of?

I don’t think people should fasten on the absence of or inclusion of ex-husband Bobby Brown at the funeral.  He claims that he wants to be there for Bobbi Kristina, but father and daughter have a love-hate relationship that may have gone south permanently.  The young woman, who twice in one day had to be hospitalized after Whitney’s death, is presently in the care of members of Houston’s family.   Those family members may be keeping the two apart at BK’s request or because they loathe Brown profoundly for being the man who introduced Whitney Houston to crack cocaine, and had pushed her to be in that reality show of his.   (No, damn it, I didn’t see that show.  It humiliated her for all time.)  If he shows, great.  If he doesn’t, great.  All this attention is being turned towards him.  He’s going to reap the benefits—if you can call it that—of being Whitney’s former husband.  I don’t think he deserves that interest and those bennies, no matter how pure his intentions are.  But that’s the weird way of the world.

The speculation about  Whitney’s sexuality—that she married Bobby Brown and had a child to quash the rumors regarding her relationship with Robyn Crawford—have reemerged.  British gay activist Peter Tatchell, who also had questions about Malcolm X’s sexuality a while back, said on his Facebook page:

Whitney Houston RIP.  She was happiest and at her peak with her female partner in the 1980s.  They were so joyful together.  I met them at the Reach Out & Touch HIV rally in London in 1991, organised by Vernal Scott.  Whitney spoke very movingly; supporting the welfare & human rights of people with HIV, when many other stars kept their distance.  She was pressured into the Bobby Brown marriage.  Disaster.  Her life started going downhill soon afterwards.  Whitney’s death is a great tragedy.

A lot of people are calling out Tatchell for being crass, sensationalist and tasteless, particularly during this time of mourning.  Perhaps.  Whitney denied being gay several times in her lifetime, but for some people there may be no name for the depth of their feelings about significant others of the same sex because the words gay and lesbian are so fraught with exposure, danger and loss.  And they don’t have to be.   That relationship with personal assistant Crawford really did stand out for me in the late Eighties all the way until she married Bobby Brown. 

And at the time, I thought it was a damn shame that Whitney was trading down for Bobby.  That’s right.   In a comparison between being with Robyn Crawford and being with Bobby Brown, if I had been Whitney, I would have chosen Crawford over Brown.   I have no doubt that Whitney probably experimented with drugs before she met Brown, but to me, Crawford represented stability.  I think that Crawford knew her and wouldn’t stand for any mess.  I don’t think Crawford wouldn’t have allowed  Whitney’s later excesses.  Robyn Crawford did not leave Whitney’s employ until about 2000, when apparently even she could not take any more of watching Whitney’s descent.

I think that I was like a lot of people: that Brown was way below Whitney because she was the Black Girl Next Door with the Voice and because he was Ghetto.  He just wasn’t her speed, even if she was a preacher’s daughter.   And I thought that was probably another reason why she decided to marry Brown.   She could have had any man in the world worth his salt—even white men were mad for Whitney, including Robert DeNiro—except for someone like Bobby. 

The guy wasn’t even all that attractive.   And still isn’t.

At the time of the wedding, Bobby had produced at least three children out of wedlock, and really wasn’t much of a father to any of them.  That was the last straw on any camel’s back for me.  He had to be chased down to deliver child support payments.   Plus, he hadn’t gotten a hit since leaving New Edition, making “My Prerogative,”  and having a bit role (and a horrible haircut at a time of very weird haircuts) in Ghostbusters II.   Maybe the families saw this union as settling him down and becoming more responsible.   And Whitney was six years older than he was.  (You could say that Whitney continued relationships with younger men with Ray-J Norwood who was 18 years her junior.)   I saw the wedding photos with the ushers and maids of honor in a national magazine, and shook my head and knew it was wrong and that it wasn’t going to last.   At least, it lasted longer than a Kardashian or a Spears marriage, but still painfully, it was too damn long.  And not before Whitney had inflicted the damage on her voice and on her career.

Bobby’s book, which appeared within a year after they were divorced in 2007, suddenly takes on relevance with money statements like this:

[…] Bobby, 43, wrote in his biography that the marriage was was ‘doomed from the very beginning. I think we got married for all the wrong reasons. Now, I realize Whitney had a different agenda than I did when we got married.

‘I believe her agenda was to clean up her image, while mine was to be loved and have children. The media was accusing her of having a bisexual relationship with her assistant, Robin [sic] Crawford. Since she was the American Sweetheart and all, that didn’t go too well with her image.

‘In Whitney’s situation, the only solution was to get married and have kids. That would kill all speculation, whether it was true or not.’

Umph.  Here Brown turns the tables on Whitney, saying that she really wasn’t the good girl who wanted marriage and family.  I object to this simplistic assumption.  I think that Whitney did want them, and that she was probably pressured to marry him having to do with family, age, career, self-esteem, Christian values, as well as the lesbian issue.  As far as children was concerned, it was revealed that Whitney had had several miscarriages, one that she said occurred while she was filming The Bodyguard, and another in 1996.  Some count at least four miscarriages during the Nineties.  So, although I accept the fear of lesbianism in the mix, I don’t think that it was the only reason why Whitney married Brown.  Or that her need to hide her sexuality led her to drugging and drinking and death in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub.

I think that Whitney had some psychological issues that were exacerbated by the drugs and drinking.  The kind of psychological issues that beset many geniuses in letters, in arts, in performance and even in the sciences.  I think Whitney wanted to have and to do it all, and for her to step back from the precipice would be a kind of cowardice.  She could not stop.  That’s why she went on, and on, and on; and got worse, and worse, and worse.

The Daily Beast had an interesting spin about how all those “who’s a lesbian?” rumors came about in the Eighties and Nineties.

According to several gossip reports in recent years, it was common knowledge that Whitney and Robyn were together; blogger Daryl Deino wrote in 2009: “Anybody who works in the recording industry knows about Whitney and Robyn’s relationship; they barely did anything to hide it during recording sessions.”


Beyond her friendship with Crawford, the lesbian reports were also fueled by supposed sightings of Houston and Kelly McGillis. In the ’80s and ’90s, McGillis was best known for playing Tom Cruise’s flame in Top Gun. Houston, it was said, regularly visited McGillis in Chicago in 1991 when McGillis was filming The Babe. Then, McGillis was in the closet but rumored to be a lesbian in Hollywood entertainment circles; she came out in 2009.

The rumors about Houston and McGillis dated back to 1988, during the filming of The Accused, leading to one of the more absurd pieces of Hollywood scuttlebutt ever to emerge: that Whitney Houston was part of a love triangle also starring Jodie Foster and McGillis.

Later, when McGillis came out and Foster publicly acknowledged her then-partner of many years, the question around Houston’s sexuality once again lingered in the air.

But in 2009, McGillis squashed that urban legend in an interview with the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News. “I’ve never met Whitney Houston. I think she’s vastly talented, but I have never met the woman.”

I did hear about the Kelly McGillis angle from a gay male friend.  I thought it was interesting but hilarious, because it appeared to me that Whitney didn’t run in the same circles as McGillis and Jodie Foster.   Seems like somebody wanted to hook up all the beautiful unattached women in Hollywood if they couldn’t find male hook ups for them, and run tell that.

Was Whitney truly gay?  At the very least, I think that she was bisexual.  It’s not improbable, no matter what she said in public.   

And you oughta know by now that it isn’t the public statements that count these days.  It’s when the truth can’t be hidden any longer.

Robyn Crawford’s haunting eulogy for Whitney was published by Esquire, and is here.

~ by blksista on February 16, 2012.

One Response to “Whitney’s Funeral to be Livestreamed Saturday from New Hope Baptist Church…and More”

  1. Whitney was Robyn’s first and truest love of her life…and vice versa. Their intimacy and closeness was real and deep, but frowned upon by everyone around Whitney. Ultimately, Whitney chose to cave into the pressures from family, religion, society, and ultimately money and fame. Out of spite and anger she chose the worst possible male she could think of…Bobby Brown. Thinking, “Hey, you want me to be “normal” and not love a woman? I’ll show all of you!” Self-denial is a horribly destructive emotion. Living without her Robyn and trying to live the life everyone else wanted for her is what drove Whitney to self-medicate to numb the pain. By the way, Robyn’s partner Lisa was once Whitney’s spokesperson. Ironic that they met through Whitney. The world has lost the most beautiful voice of our time, but she is definitely in heaven and no longer tortured.


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