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If you were Nate Parker’s publicist, how drunk would you be right now?

Then again, after reading Parker’s remarks to Variety and Deadline about past accusations of rape, one wonders if he even has one—an effective one anyway. “Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life,” Parker explained to Variety. “It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That’s that. Seventeen years later, I’m a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.”

Parker essentially repeats his seemingly prepared statements in his separate interview with Deadline. That interview, though, is far more overt in its attempts to assist Parker in squashing controversy before the release of his directorial debut, Birth of a Nation. Its co-authors include rather dubious lines like “Why would an incident that ended in Parker’s acquittal nearly two decades ago be at all relevant in a movie that took place in Antebellum Virginia?”

This is the traditional Hollywood machine at work. For so long, it has been able to masterly diffuse any potential backlash towards creatives whose private acts threaten their professional work and movie studios’ bottomlines. However, it is a new day; one in which social media has amplified the voices of those traditionally drowned out. After both interviews ran, subsequent reports claimed executives of Fox Searchlight, which is distributing Parker’s film, are “scrambling” to deal with the aftermath, reportedly taking “a wait and see approach to a proposed ambitious release plan that had called for extensive outreach to church groups, college campuses and prominent Hollywood figures.”

They can wait and see all they’d like, but the damage is done. Parker may have decided to address an issue he admittedly knew was heading his way, but he did so in cavalier fashion to his own detriment. The same goes for Parker’s former college roommate and co-writer of The Birth of a Nation, Jean Celestin, who told Deadline: “This was something that I experienced as a college student 17 years ago and was fully exonerated of. I have since moved on and been focusing on my family and writing career.”

Both Parker and Celestin are noticeably careful with their phrasing. To be found not guilty and exonerated of charges does not necessarily amount to innocence. Of all those who have already taken to Parker’s defense, I find it equal parts amusing and alarming that Black men have been so quick to suddenly cite the court system. This is the same court system that told us Trayvon Martin’s killer was not guilty; that Tamir Rice’s killer was not deserving of an indictment; that no one should face any consequences for the death of Freddie Gray.

We know the justice system will fail Black and Brown people when they fall victim to agents of the state, or in George Zimmerman’s case, a coward wearing the drag of law enforcement, but the justice systemfails the victims of sexual assault just as routinely.

In the case of the 18-year-old woman who accused Parker and Celestin of raping her in their apartment after a night of drinking, details from the case do suggest she was failed. Parker was ultimately acquitted of the charges in 2001, but much of that had to do with the accuser admitting that the two had consensual sex previously—which says a lot more about a failure to recognize consent is on a case by case basis more than anything. As for Celestin, he was convicted only to have that conviction overturned with no retrial due to the accuser not wanting to testify again. However, she sued the university and was awarded a $17,500 settlement out of court.

For those who mercilessly brush these allegations aside, I invite you to read the testimonies of eyewitnesses during the trial. Then read the transcript of a phone conversation Parker had with the alleged victim. Parker talks about some traumatizing moment of his life, but read the trauma in those documents and who is responsible. Then remember Parker’s alive while his accuser committed suicide in 2012. Her death certificate states that she suffered “major depressive disorder with psychotic features, PTSD due to physical and sexual abuse, polysubstance abuse.”

Her brother told Variety, “If I were to look back at her very short life and point to one moment where I think she changed as a person, it was obviously that point.”

Those asking why Parker’s rape case wasn’t made a bigger issue in the past, know that it’s not a riddle. With wider attention comes more extensive looks into one’s background—especially if you are the centerpiece of a major film release that plans to launch an expansive Oscar campaign in the months ahead. It works the same with presidential candidates.

Yet, some would argue that Parker is the victim, purportedly because“they don’t want the story of Nat Turner to be released.” Who is they? White folks? The same white folks that gave Nate Parker $17.5 million for The Birth of a Nation? The same ones actively protecting their investment by trotting him to the press in the first place? Oh.

If there’s one thing men of every color can agree on, it is often sadly the disregard of women and autonomy over their bodies.

 

Read the rest at Complex.

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Justin Bieber didn’t have to delete his Instagram account the other day, after he asked his fans Sunday night to stop being so mean to Sofia Richie, whom he is reportedly dating. (Beliebers can be quite vicious.)

Because what followed that – ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez decided to treat his mentions like the Shade Room – would not have happened if he followed my simple social media rule: block your exes immediately.

“If you can’t handle the hate then stop posting pictures of your girlfriend lol – it should be special between you two only. Don’t be mad at your fans. They love you,” Gomez wrote.

An internet tempest ensued, which ended with Bieber deleting his account and, I don’t know, making sea levels rise with the overflow of tears from fans around the world. Then Gomez issued a mea culpa, taking to Snapchat to write, “What I said was selfish and pointless.” Yes, girl. 100 emoji. But you shouldn’t have been able to weigh in at all.

In the dark ages before broadband and social media, once a couple ended a relationship, typically people were done. Sure, every so often there might be a letter mailed, a phone call made, a text message sent or an email drafted, but nothing that contained the possibility of constant interaction. If you date someone and it doesn’t work out but you keep following their social media accounts, you are prone to see mention of them just about daily.

Maybe, if you aren’t ready to cut the digital cord, you can mute them on Twitter and unfollow them on Facebook. But when it comes to Instagram, you are stuck with them. You can scroll by, but as Selena Gomez has shown us, you may fall victim to your ex being messy and live for drama on your timeline.

I’ve done this plenty of times. Sometimes when you’re done dating a person, they want to “stay friends”, and that includes keeping in touch through social media. I used to agree. Now, to quote the late Whitney Houston, and every black woman I’ve met over the age of 45, “Hell to the nah.” As I tend to tell most of the folks I’ve dated in the past: thank you for your services. Fin.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

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Understandably, it may be difficult for many at this moment in time to feel any empathy toward anyone with the last name Trump. The sole blame for that goes to the most famous one of the bunch, Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, who was sadly bestowed with an irregular version of humanity at birth. A man who recently said that if his own daughter had been a victim of sexual harassment at work, the onus would be on her to find a new company or even a new career.

As vile a human being as Donald Trump is, and as after-school special as this may sound, the reality is: wrong is wrong. To be selective about when to exercise morality trivializes its very purpose. In the case of the New York Post publishing nude photos of Trump’s wife Melania—which were taken more than 20 years ago—it is undoubtedly wrong. The unfortunate cover touting Melania’s nudes is wrong. The article “Melania Trump like you’ve never seen her before” is wrong. The article entitled “Melania Trump’s girl-on-girl photos from racy shoot revealed” is wrong. Even the other feature “Donald Trump is not upset Melania’s nude photos surfaced” is wrong.

They are wrong because they seek to shame Melania. They are wrong because they reduce her to an object. They are wrong because they play off archaic ideas of nudity and sexuality and perpetuate elitist ideas of what kind of woman should be First Lady. They are wrong because they have absolutely nothing to do with a presidential election between candidates Donald J. Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Yet, some have noticeably maintained that they refuse to feel sorry for Melania because of how badly conservatives treated First Lady Michelle Obama. Many of these complaints have essentially danced around the sentiment, “They wouldn’t defend her so I won’t feel bad for her either.”

Well, the they in question is the New York Post, a trashy tabloid that’s right-leaning, routinely racist, consistently sexist, and typically terrible. A tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, the same person who owns FOX News. Perhaps some conservatives are speaking in support of Melania Trump in ways they never did for Michelle Obama, but ultimately, both women have now been ridiculed by conservative media outlets. That is a testament to the reality that no matter one’s ideology, if you are a woman married to a politician, you may find yourself the victim of vile attacks. You would think all Murdoch-owned media outlets might tamper down on its sexist attacks of women in light of the Roger Ailes scandal, but old habits appear to die hard ‘round those parts.

Read the rest at Complex.

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I’m not in the habit of complimenting Sarah Silverman, a person whose regret about wearing blackface for a skit once is largely rooted in the notion that it was “taken out of context” years later on Twitter. Even so, I found myself grateful to her on the first night of the Democratic National Convention for saying what needed to be said. First, Silverman, one of the first celebrities to support Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid, expressed why she supported the Sanders campaign and why she will now be voting for Hillary Clinton in November. The comedian and actress was greeted with some cheers, though none loud enough to drown out the ferocious boos.

Minutes later, joined by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Silverman was again met with boos while speaking only to say with visible annoyance, “To the Bernie or Bust crowd, you’re being ridiculous.”

Finally, someone said it. Much like Sen. Claire McCaskill expressed on Tuesday’s edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, I did not anticipate Sanders’ biggest fans to walk into the convention with smiles on their faces as they toasted Hillary Clinton officially becoming the Democratic Party’s nominee for president. However, there should have been some nominal level of civility in certain moments.

Before Silverman made that statement, Sanders supporters booed every single person who dared to speak Clinton’s name. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) was booed and heckled as he spoke about his dead father and Black Lives Matter. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), the newly named convention chairwoman in light of the DNC email scandal, was also met with a wall of boos.

“May I just make a point,” Fudge said. “There are many of you that do not know me in this room, but let me say to you, I intend to be fair. I want to hear the varying opinions here. I am going to be respectful of you and I want you to be respectful of me.”

She was not given that respect, nor were most of the speakers before and in some cases after Silverman. Not even prayer could be spared from booing once “Hillary Clinton” was spoken. I mean this from the very bottom of my heathen heart: you are a pathetic, despicable, waste of humanity if you cannot be bothered to silence your anger during a prayer.

While it doesn’t apply to all of Bernie’s supporters at the convention, certainly enough of them behaved like spoiled, entitled, naive lil’ brats. Making matters worse was that many of them interviewed on networks like MSNBC could not even explain their vitriol. Some mentioned TPP—a trade deal that critics claim would lead to more American jobs going abroad—even though Clinton no longer supports it and it was only kept in the Democratic platform at the behest of our current Democratic president. Who knew TPP was the deal breaker for so many Sanders supporters?

Meanwhile, Sanders managed to push for what has been rightly called the most progressive Democratic platform. Then there was mindless chatter from some supporters about how technically, Hillary Clinton is only the presumptive nominee. As if God—whom they essentially booed—was about to step down in Philadelphia and personally hand Sanders the nomination.

Silverman, to her credit, managed to be an adult in a room full of adult-aged people who may have gotten one too many participation awards, thus having some false sense of entitlement as to what happens to a losing campaign . She, as Sanders tried to remind his supporters earlier that day (which was met with his own round of boos), understands, “This is the real world that we live in.”

This is in stark contrast to two other celebrity Sanders supporters in Rosario Dawson and Susan Sarandon.

Read the rest at Complex.

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Much like the instantaneous, fame-adjacent status he procured by being shown wearing trendy clothes that showed off his ankles on the internet, the older black gentleman known as “Mr. Steal Your Grandma” has hastily fallen from many folks’ good graces. Much of it has to do with a since-deleted Facebook status in which Irvin Randle laid out a few ground rules for the younger Negroes.

“I have a message for my young African-Americans if y’all want to succeed in this life and stay out of trouble,” Randle wrote. “I know being successful doesn’t spare us from getting killed but most of the times, it keeps us out of trouble.”

These tips included going to school, not wearing baggy pants, covering up that body with more articles of clothing and forgoing the option of “calling yourselves bad bitches.” Well, as a certified bad bitch who doesn’t typically mind the sight of sagging, let me just say, I’m glad many of the blacks respectfully told Randle to go back to watching old episodes of Sanford and Son and stop doling out “respectability politics.” Y’all gave that man too much for simply being an AARP-age man wearing tight-ass clothing anyway.

Unfortunately, Mr. Steal Your Grandma’s impact has already guaranteed that other pop-pops are about to storm your social media feeds with shots of them in those tight, black Adidas pants. In fact, I’ve already seen screenshots of older black men in their 50s and 60s more or less trying to “do it for the ’gram.” OK, Facebook, for the most part, ’cause old folks love themselves some Facebook, but you get it.

Sadly, the stampede cannot be stopped. Nonetheless, I can help you cope with the growing old-head movement happening online.

Step 1: Be like French Montana and don’t panic.

Listen, my grandparents have gone on to glory, so while I miss my pa-pa terribly, I’m glad I don’t have to worry about him showing up in my feed wearing tight shorts he got from a J.C. Penney or Macy’s sale trying to show you he’s still got it. For those of you that do, though, do not stress yourself out. We’re all black, so we really needn’t play with our heart rates like that—especially if we eat Popeye’s.

Breathe. Breathe some more. Exhale. Shoop shoop. Pace yourself.

Step 2: Think of Blanche Devereaux.

I’m not into cat daddies like some of my nasty friends are, but I do think there’s something to be said for respecting older folks who want to be seen as desirable. Yes, that denotes sexuality. Calm down. I know it’s your grandpa, older daddy, great-uncle or just someone who played one of those roles growing up. The point is, older chaps have always lived their lives despite growing older, only now, social media has made it more apparent. You need to accept this.

Step 3: Know that they are Ms. Evelyn, but you are Toni and Tamar.

By that, I mean you must acknowledge that one day, you’re going to be that older person who wants to still be fly. It’s fine so long as you don’t get carried away.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Toward the end of 2014, vicious and very much hateful people worked quickly to spread isolated, unedited vocals of a Mariah Carey holiday performance that was not her best (to say the least).

We know Mariah loves herself some Christmas, but unfortunately, when she performed “All I Want for Christmas Is You” during a Rockefeller Center Christmas tree-lighting special on NBC, she sounded like she had gargled with a lump of coal (no shade). Many folks took absolute glee in this spectacle.

In one post about the performance, a writer wrote: “Remember when Mariah Carey could sing? Most millennials probably can’t.”

As a millennial, let the record show that this is an absolute damn lie. Has Mariah’s once pristine and flawless voice shown signs of decline with time and possibly pinot grigio? I would never lie and deny this, dahling. Even if I am a proud member of her Lambily family, I can acknowledge that there have been moments in which one could say that Mimi sang as if she couldn’t fulfill the terms of her agreement with Ursula the Sea Witch, and thus, was being punished.

However, if there is one constant about Mariah Carey, it is that her vocal talent is enduring and ready to rebound. This would include Mariah during The Emancipation of Mimi era in which she let many doubters know back then that she was not washed up. This would also include right about now.

I’m not sure what Mariah has been doing—vocal rest, a new contract with Ursula, lots of prayer and tea—but she’s sounded lovely for most of the year. There are countless videos posted on YouTubefrom her recent Sweet Sweet Fantasy international tour. Maybe Mariah doesn’t sound like the MTV Unplugged special, but she is singing as strongly as she ever has in several years.

Mariah herself has also been posting video clips from her Las Vegas residency, Mariah #1 to Infinity, at Caesar’s Palace.

Read the rest at The Root.

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There is only so much one can glean from another’s social media accounts. Sure, there’s a lot that can be unraveled in terms of behavior and character, but these are not media in which anyone can do so in totality. So when it came to criticism about Nicki Minaj over her silence about the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, much of it felt unfair, or at the very least, not appropriately contextualized.

Would I have handled critics exactly like Nicki Minaj did? No, but there was a lot of presumption in one particular tweet that sparked additional online criticism. The tweet in question read: “I’m kind of offended that Nicki could tweet about a song but can’t acknowledge the shootings in Orlando.”

Minaj subsequently unfollowed him, resulting in more questions asking why she and other artists like Drake and Taylor Swift failed to express their grievances on their respective social media accounts.

As far as Minaj tweeting about her single, let us not forget that Minaj is an artist—you know, an employee—and part of an employee’s said duties would include the promotion of their work. That said, when it comes to Minaj, Swift, and Rihanna, I do understand the notion that considering how instrumental gay men have been in their careers as fans, dancers, make up artists, hairdressers, and other professional duties, there ought to be a specific sensitivity to tragedies directly impacting the LGBT community.

It is a valid observation, though a lack of social media updates does not necessarily mean these artists don’t care. The same goes for others in media and entertainment. Just this week, I saw someone tweet at the podcast “Another Round” about their lack of response to the Orlando shooting. The podcast’s response was: “we havent recorded a full episode since it happened.”

Beloveds, don’t let the internet fool you into thinking everything is or must be instantaneous. 

While it is true that Minaj has addressed matters like the death of Sandra Bland, it was not days after her death but months after a grand jury failed to make any indictments. I don’t know if these celebrities have actually made any donations to charities in support of Orlando’s victims. Neither do you. I don’t know if these artists will ultimately issue statements about the mass shooting at a later date. Neither do you.

What I do know, though, in my own life as a gay Black man, many people handle tragedy differently. Moreover, there is no one way to handle tragedy. So when the likes of Perez Hilton attacked Minaj online, I found his sudden urgency for decency, respect for humanity, and political correctness rather dubious. After all, this is the same person who called Will.I.Am a “faggot” and “thug” and he’s repeatedly been contemptous in his criticism of Black female celebrities like Nicki Minaj. To that end, if there is a hell, that hypocritical motherfucker can dive fingers and tongue first into the seventh circle.

Read the rest at Complex.

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In the wake of the terrible tragedy in Orlando, many have understandably turned to love. Love is warming. Love is beautiful. Love is an imperfect, but no less joyous feeling. So, it is not at all surprising to see multiple well-meaning, sympathetic people invoke “love wins” and “love is love” in response to the hatred that was conveyed in its most vitriolic and violent form at the Pulse nightclub.

 I love an early ’90s ballad from Mariah Carey and Céline Dion too, but love does not always win. Love is not always enough. Although love is beautiful, it has severe limitations.

The invocation of love made sense in the context of marriage equality, as a political strategy. This benefited the gay rights movement because love is a universal and lofty emotion that’s easily consumed.

Nonetheless, that was a specific use for a specific argument—one that is increasingly proving impractical with respect to advocating tolerance and our basic civil rights in areas outside of marriage.

When it comes to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and gender-queer people, we need to talk about these identities outside of the prisms of love and romantic partnerships. We need to be able to consider same-sex identities outside of just romance. Sometimes it’s not about love; sometimes people just want to f**k. Straight people should understand this. We are no different than you all in that regard.

Sometimes, when you see two men kissing, it is just passion, and yes, that denotes sex. Sex is perfectly natural. Sex and passion conveyed by two consenting adults is perfectly fine.

How two men express affection for each other—again, sex—is not widely seen in mass media. The sight still makes many—even those who claim to accept marriage equality—uncomfortable. We have learned that the sight of two men kissing each other angered the shooter in Orlando, Omar Mateen. Were those two men in love? None of us know. But more importantly, it shouldn’t matter: non-heterosexual relationships should not continue to be solely spoken of in the context of love.

As reports surface that Mateen not only used gay dating apps, but frequented Pulse before terrorizing it, it seems that he may have had some sort of conflict within himself about his sexuality. A former classmate of Mateen’s has said that he was gay and once asked him out. The man, who did not identify himself in his interview, went on to say, “He just wanted to fit in and no one liked him. He was always socially awkward.”

That internal struggle, which potentially manifested itself in rage and acts of violence, is not limited to Mateen. In March, Elliot Morales was convicted of a hate crime after murdering a man whom he referred to as a “faggot.” During Morales’ trial, prosecutors claimed that Morales was driven to kill by his own issues with his sexuality.

Read the rest at ELLE.

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More often than not, when I am asked what it was like being gay in the South, it is met with certain expectations. You can tell the person asking is likely anticipating me to offer a dramatic pause—perhaps one long enough to let a single tear fall down my face—before ultimately saying something that fits into their stereotypical presumptions. Maybe they expect me to tell a story about being shoved down by a gang of overalls-wearing homophobes on a hog farm, too. Who knows, but based on reactions, I typically don’t offer the response they’re seeking.

As someone who is also Black (and not having “transcended race”), I am used to this; it is very much akin to the falsehood that Black folks have some monopoly on homophobia. Much like that issue, homophobia in the South is not all that different at its core than it is anywhere else. If nothing else, perhaps it is unique in its delivery.

That said, when one says “the South,” specifics are required.

I am from Houston, Texas, with both sides of my family largely hailing from Louisiana. Texas is a nation unto itself and while Houston is southern, the rest? Eh, not so much. Similarly, you can’t expect major southern cities like Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta, or Miami to be the same as towns in Mississippi or Alabama. The reality is, while I chose to wait until I was a 21-year-old intern in New York City to admit to myself and my friends that I was gay, I could have easily done so in high school.

At the time, many of my friends were sneaking into gay and lesbian clubs where they were free to be themselves. One club in particular was called Big Yo’s. I never made it there—and though everyone comes out on their own schedules—a part of me wishes I was. It was always described to me as a fun, joyous place where people were allowed to live as individuals—a feat often unallowed in every other space of their lives. Rappers like Trina would perform at the clubs because (surprise, surprise) some people knew early on that money is money and that all people—even those defying heteronormativity and rigid gender binaries—are just people.

Years later, relatives would tell me about their drives to New Orleans to see groundbreaking queer rap artists like Katey Red perform. Some would join Katey Red onstage to twerk the night away. For all the current chatter about where hip hop needs to go in terms of allowing more LGBT representation, a fun fact is that this has long been happening in the South.

This same joy I’ve heard and seen in cities like Houston and New Orleans also exists in other places like Atlanta, and yes, Orlando.

The thing about us southern folk is while bigotry might be directly in our faces and heard at higher volumes, we have always found a way to bounce pass it—literally and figuratively. And the thing about hearing prejudice at its bluntest delivery is that it does not mean you are any safer in places where it is conveyed in softer tones. Donald Trump is a bigot and xenophobe, but he is nothing more than a reflection of the Republican Party, and in many ways, America.

Read the rest at Complex.

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Very seldom will you ever find me speaking ill of the legendary Bobby Brown. You’re now reading words from someone who will regularly inform you that if not for the Don’t Be Cruel album, it’s highly unlikely you will have artists like Usher, Trey Songz and Chris Brown. A person, who after finding out “The Kang of R&B” was selling BBQ sauce and fried chicken seasoning, immediately went online to place an order. So, my love of Bobby Brown is pure and everlasting.

However, there is news pouring out from a recent interview that’s troubled me. There are a few things in life I can look past. I pass no judgment on Bobby Brown for recently telling ABC’s Robin Roberts that he once had sex with a ghost is a fine example. Brown’s purported private ghost busting aside, I’m more frustrated that he felt compelled to discuss a long rumored part of his late ex wife’s life.

Speaking with Us Weekly, Brown addressed the outstanding rumor that Whitney Houston had a same-sex relationship with Robyn Crawford. Houston met Crawford as a teen before she ultimately hired Crawford to be her assistant and creative director. Rumors of a romance started in the late 1980s and traveled with the late iconic singer for years. The rumor reached its peak of speculation once Houston went on to join Michael Jackson in the afterlife choir and Crawford spoke with Esquire about their relationship.

In response to stories that Houston was pressured by family members not to see her, Crawford noted, “Nobody kept Whitney from doing anything.” Beyond that, though, there is a subtle gorgeousness to how Crawford speaks of Houston. It is quite clear that whatever their relationship was, it was rooted in love.

Crawford explained: “I have never spoken about her until now. And she knew I wouldn’t. She was a loyal friend and she knew I was never going to be disloyal to her. I was never going to betray her. Now I can’t believe that I’m never going to hug her or hear her laughter again. I loved her laughter and that’s what I miss most, that’s what I miss already.”

And: “I just hope that she wasn’t in pain and that she hadn’t lost hope. She gave so much to so many people; I hope that she felt loved in return. She was the action, for such a long time. She’s out of the action now. I hope she can finally rest.”

This should have been the end of that. No one who was not privy to the intel to confirm the specifics of their relationship deserved nothing more than what Crawford offered. Sadly, Brown has now chimed in, telling Us Weekly that when it comes to Houston and Crawford, “I know. We were married for 14 years. There are some things we talked about that were personal to us.”

Brown, who recently released a memoir, “Every Little Step,” alleges that Houston was bisexual. He told Us, “I’m a man and she was attracted to me!”

Read the rest at VH1.

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