Whitney Houston‘s best friend, Robyn Crawford, is setting the record straight once and for all about their friendship and relationship in her upcoming memoir, A Song for You: My Life With Whitney Houston.
The book comes out November 12, and PEOPLE obtained excerpts of it that they made public. Crawford writes in it that she decided to put out the book seven years after Houston’s death because plenty had been said about them over the years, but she wanted to clear the air for her dear friend.
“I’d come to the point where I felt the need to stand up for our friendship,” she said. “And I felt an urgency to stand up and share the woman behind the incredible talent.”
In the memoir, Crawford says when she and Whitney met as counselors at a summer camp in East Orange, New Jersey in 1980, they became inseparable. Crawford told her early on, “I’m going to look out for you.”
She did, and she also fell in love with Houston. According to her, the feeling was mutual.
“We wanted to be together, and that meant just us,” she said. But once Houston found herself signing a record deal and preparing to step into the spotlight, she felt like she needed to change the way the two went about the relationship. She specifically wanted them to cease the physical aspect of what they had, giving Crawford a Bible in 1982 to make that clear.
“She said we shouldn’t be physical anymore because it would make our journey even more difficult,” she wrote. “She said if people find out about us, they would use this against us, and back in the ’80s that’s how it felt.”
The opinions of Houston’s family also factored into the need for them to cool off.
“Whitney told me her mother said it wasn’t natural for two women to be that close,” she wrote, “but we were that close.”
Crawford was able to make peace with the decision, choosing to keep their secret to protect Houston. From then on, she was just her friend.
“I kept it safe,” she wrote. “I found comfort in my silence.”
Still, people began to speculate about the nature of their relationship and questioned Houston’s sexuality because they were so close. At that point, it was easy to ignore it.
“We never talked about labels, like lesbian or gay,” she wrote. “We just lived our lives and I hoped it could go on that way forever.”
“Whitney knows I loved her and I know she loved me,” she added. “We really meant everything to each other. We vowed to stand by each other.”
These days, Crawford lives in New Jersey with her partner, Lisa Hintlemann, and their two children, whom they adopted. She works as a family fitness trainer. She broke out of her reclusive lifestyle to write A Song for You in the hopes of honoring the woman she knew Houston to be.