I stopped listening to Whitney Houston after that first album. Too much had happened to really stay in what felt like an innocent time. More was going to happen, but the end of 1985 was the end of that “innocence” for me, Angie, and the rest of my girls. There were more pregnancies and more heartbreak in years to come. In the next two or three years, crack swept into my small city, putting a significant dent in the structure of the Black community I was growing up in. By my junior year, people I went to high school with who were small-time pot dealers moved onto crack. Older folks I knew went to jail, and close family members (and friends) were addicted. That lasted for several more years, and, in some cases, continues today.
At the same time that all of this was going on, Angie moved to California with her mom, sister, and brother. It felt like my whole world shifted and I couldn’t go back. I did come back to Houston’s music, however, briefly, when “It’s Not Right…But It’s Okay” dominated the gay bars I was dancing in in the late 90s. And I was happy. She was back–with a solid, sweet hit.
But, it was brief for me. The rumors of drug use and a tumultuous marriage had already surfaced and, it was too painful to look at her. Even though the gorgeous smile was there and she was even flirty in the video, she looked different. Worked over. Not quite defeated, but struggling. Definitely not hopeful. She was too much like folks I knew (know). And it was different after that. She was different. The “crack is wack” comment came later and, by that time, I was already gone. That period signaled too much loss for me. But, it was that refrain, It’s not right/But it’s okay/I’m gonna make it anyway (pay my own rent/take care of my babies) that stuck in my head as I turned my back on her, like I had others. Not because they weren’t “acting right,” but because it was too much loss. Loss that I still haven’t wrapped my head around all these years later."