FROM THE ARCHIVE: Whitney Houston's 2000 Out Interview
By Out.com Editors
We remember the passing of the music icon by revisiting the singer's first interview with the gay press, in which she answered those pesky lesbian questions
Houston’s typical defensiveness suggests, of course, that she hasn’t really moved on at all. When I tell her that I believe she’s straight, she retorts, “It’s not for you to believe me. I don’t give a shit if you believe me or not.”
Unlike the previous reporter, though, I feel I’ve glimpsed the real Houston, and what’s more, I actually like her. Her feistiness reads as vindictive, but there’s a playfulness about her that can put you at ease even when she isn’t. And when she’s sad, as she is when contemplating a future without Clive Davis at the helm of her label, she reveals true vulnerability. “He treats me like his daughter,” Houston says at one point, her eyes filling with tears. “It’s been like that for 15 years. I’m gonna miss him.”
The arrival of Greatest Hits—shortly before Davis’ departure from Arista—marks the end of an era. The significance isn’t lost on Houston. First known as Cissy Houston’s daughter and Dionne’s cousin, then Davis’ protégé, Whitney has had plenty to prove. But the musical and emotional evolution documented on Hits speaks for itself, and now she’s focused on matters closer to home, like being as devoted to Bobbi Kristina as Cissy Houston was to her.
“Sometimes, I swear to you, it feels like nothing is going my way,” Houston says with self-aware petulance. “Then I look at my little girl and know that she needs me for me and not anything else. That makes me wanna live on so much harder, ‘cause I can’t stand to think the world would teach her something I wouldn’t teach her. That makes me live, baby.”
The next day, at Davis’ pre-Grammys soiree, Houston springs to life during her 45-minute set: She’s spontaneous, in a way the public rarely witnesses; you can hear how the years have put a growl in her deepened voice and grounded her vocal gymnastics. Surrounded by friends and peers such as Mary J. Blige, Lauryn Hill, and Stevie Wonder, and of course, Davis, Houston gives a strikingly heartfelt performance. But the most memorable sight of the evening—more memorable even than Davis’ giving the star a plaque signifying the 110 million Houston albums sold worldwide—is the image of Houston jumping up and down in her spangled black gown during “How Will I Know.” The drag has matured, but Whitney still can’t keep her feet on the ground.