Whitney Houston — music icon, gay icon, everything icon — sat down with writer Barry Waters in 2000 (more than 12 years before her untimely death) for a one-on-one interview that was as unfiltered as they come for a performer well into her music career.
Following the massive success of her fourth studio album, 1998's My Love Is Your Love, the singer was about to release her first greatest hits package and ready to look back on the span of her 15-year career. In her conversation with Waters, Houston took on every rumor and question thrown at her, including ones about her being a lesbian.
"I suppose it comes from knowing people…who are. I don’t care who you sleep with," Houston said at the time. "If I’m your friend, I’m your friend. I have friends who are in the community. And I’m sure that in my days of bein’ out, hanging with my friends, having nothing but females around me, something’s gotta be wrong with that.”
While she answered the question well enough, the conversation with Houston became intense. At times, she seemed defensive — not at all satisfied with the topic of discussion. The attitude may have led some reporters to feel they were being evaded, but Waters felt otherwise.
"I feel I’ve glimpsed the real Houston, and what’s more, I actually like her," Waters wrote. "Her feistiness reads as vindictive, but there’s a playfulness about her that can put you at ease even when she isn’t."
Ahead of what would be her 51st birthday on Aug. 9, we wanted to look back on a version of Houston we had never seen before.
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