“Whitney,” a documentary about the rise and fall of Whitney Houston, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday, and a lot of secrets were revealed.
The movie was directed by Swedish filmmaker Kevin Macdonald, who learned that as children, Whitney and her brother Gary Houston were molested by their cousin Dee Dee Warwick, Dionne Warwick‘s sister.
Both Gary and Whitney were left with Dee Dee and other relatives since their mother Cissy Houston was a successful backup singer for artists like Aretha Franklin. In 2008 Dee Dee died after battling a longtime drug addiction.
“Being a child — being seven, eight, nine years old — and being molested by a female family member of mine. My mother and father were gone a lot, so we stayed with a lot of different people … four, five different families who took care of us,” said Gary in the documentary.
Mary Jones, Whitney’s longtime assistant also spoke about the alleged molestation, and she detailed a conversation she had with the singer.
“[Whitney] looked at me and said, ‘Mary, I was molested at a young age too, but it wasn’t by a man — it was a woman,” Jones remembered. “She had tears in her eyes. She says, ‘Mommy don’t know the things we went through.’”
“I said, ‘Have you ever told your mother?’” Jones asked. “She says, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Well, maybe you need to tell her.’ She said, ‘No, my mother would hurt somebody if I told her who it was.’ She just had tears rolling down her face, and I just hugged her. I said, ‘One day when you get the nerve, you need to tell your mother. It will lift the burden off you.'”
In another part of the film, one interviewee was asked about Robyn Crawford, Whitney’s close friend, former roommate and alleged lover. There’s a number of people in the documentary who describe the singer’s sexuality as “fluid” and reportedly, she moved in with Crawford at age 18 after she first left her parent’s house.
The interviewee also compared that relationship to the one Whitney had with Bobby Brown, and she said one was healthy and the other was plagued with envy.
“Robyn was her safety net,” the woman explained. “Bobby was jealous. He wanted to be on the stage; he wanted to be [at] the forefront and eventually she stepped down to lift him up.”
In regards to the alleged molestation, Whitney never spoke publicly about it but according to MacDonald, he saw how she was affected in certain interviews she gave.
“Child abuse makes me angry,” Whitney once said. “It bothers me that children, who are helpless, who depend on adults for security and love [get abused]. It just bothers me. It makes me angry.”
MacDonald also said that Cissy is fully aware that the molestation accusation will be discussed in the film, and Dionne Warwick has been told as well.
As for why Whitney never told her mother about the alleged abuse, Jones said she was extremely embarrassed about it.
“I think she was ashamed,” she stated. “She used to say, ‘I wonder if I did something to make [Dee Dee] think I wanted her.’ I said, ‘Stop. A predator is a predator is a predator.’ If Cissy had known, she would have done something about it, because Cissy loves her children.”
“Whitney” opens in U.S. theaters on July 6.