Is Ryan Russell Dating A White Man Bad?

Image via Instagram @rkrelentless

Should it matter that Ryan Russell is dating a white man? Absolutely not! Does it matter? Unfortunately, yes. Though, not for the reason you think.

Yesterday, we shared with you the fact that football player Ryan Russell, who’s currently acting as a free agent defensive end, came out as bisexual through an interview with ESPN. In the interview, Russell explained his plan as twofold: to return to the NFL and to live life as an openly bisexual man.


“Today, I have two goals: returning to the NFL, and living my life openly,” Russell said in the interview. “I want to live my dream of playing the game I’ve worked my whole life to play, and being open about the person I’ve always been.”

In addition to sharing the fact that he’s bi, Russell also revealed that he’s dating a man. Unfortunately, many people, and especially Black men, were upset to see that Russell’s 27-year-old boyfriend is a white man.

“Wanted to be excited that Ryan Russell came out as bisexual. As a proud Black, East Asian, and Caribbean bi dude I was happy that another person of color had broken down that wall but alas, you guessed it, his partner is white. This shit is sick and an epidemic at this point,” wrote one disgruntled Twitter user.

“If another Black man comes out as gay or bisexual and dating a white man, I’m going to be so… not surprised,” wrote another.

And these commenters weren’t alone.



A (Not So) Secret Race & Dating Issue?

But what’s with all the anger? Why can’t Ryan Russell just be happy and in love? Well, it’s not so much about the individual as it is about the ongoing trend of Black men dating white men and women. To first tackle this issue, we need to look at our straight peers.


Back in 2014, OkCupid released a much-talked-about study stating that Black women were at the bottom of the dating pool (next to Asian men). This mirrored constant conversation of how Black men were choosing to date outside of their race. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing at a first glance, an increasing number of Black men choosing to not date Black women means that Black women are being left in the cold.

This problem has then been spotlighted by many celebrity couples. Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel (before they broke up), Omari Hardwick and Jennifer Pfautch, Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus, Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian (basically all the black men dating the Kardashians/Jenners), James Earl Jones, Charles Barkley and Maureen Blumhardt, Alfonso Ribeiro and Angela Unkrich, and many more.

Tv host and comedian Nick Cannon then spoke to BET about the phenomenon. He shared the perspective that dating and marrying a white woman is a success symbol for Black men.

“White women are looked at as success,” he said. “In America, we see a white woman — ‘I couldn’t have you. My daddy couldn’t have you. My granddaddy couldn’t have you. I would get killed even looking at you.’ So, now, if I play for the NBA, I want ’em all.”



Researchers See It Too

But this isn’t just some hallucination of bitter and single Black people. This is an occurrence documented by researchers as well.

A 2017 study by the Pew Research Center found that the amount of Black people engaging in interracial marriages is on the rise. In fact, the share of recently married Black newlyweds with a spouse of a different race or ethnicity has more than tripled since 1980.


Then within that, Black men are twice as likely to be in an interracial relationship, as explained below:

“One of the most dramatic patterns occurs among black newlyweds: Black men are twice as likely as black women to have a spouse of a different race or ethnicity (24% vs. 12%). This gender gap has been a long-standing one – in 1980, 8% of recently married black men and 3% of their female counterparts were married to someone of a different race or ethnicity.”

Image via Pexels

Even further, the data finds that the more educated a person is, the more likely they are to be in an interracial marriage. And Black men are always more likely to do so than women and become increasingly more likely as they become more educated.


“Among newly married black men, higher education is clearly associated with higher intermarriage rates. While 17% of those with a high school diploma or less had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity in 2015, this share rose to 24% for those with some college and to 30% for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.”

While you could make the argument that a higher education means that you’re more impervious to ignorant racial bias, there’s also an opposite problem to it for Black men. For instance, women’s interest in interracial marriage/relationships varied only slightly by education (10% for High school, 10% for some college, and 13% for Bachelors+). So why is it that Black men, when they get an advanced education, feel so much more interested in dating outside of their race?

Again, all of this isn’t to say that interracial dating is bad. Its to say there’s a growing case of men valuing dating people who aren’t Black after rising in financial, educational, and social status.

Stock Photo via Pexels

Gay & Bi Men Too?


And it seems this phenomenon has spread into gay dating. As Twitter users pointed out above, Ryan Russell’s case of dating a white man isn’t unusual. For instance, wrestler Anthony Bowens is dating a white man, first openly gay NBA player Jason Collins is dating a white man, YouTuber, Broadway actor, and pop singer Todrick Hall is known for dating white men, rapper Tyler The Creator is quoted for the lyrics “kissing white boys since 2004,” and there are many more cases.

But Is Ryan Russell Bad?

With all this in mind, the backlash to Ryan Russell dating a white man is no surprise to anyone. But is it ok to be mad at him? Is it ok to make a man feel bad for falling in love with a man of a different race? No. Of course not. Let Ryan Russell live and love however he wants. At the end of the day, it’s none of our business whom other people date. When the ultimate point of life is to just pursue one’s personal happiness, there’s no point in fighting someone for whomever they date.

That said, there is still an important issue here worth discussing. The problem is not the individuals, it’s the underlying community trend and issue. That’s the real reason for the above tweets. It’s not a vindictive attack, as some choose to believe without listening to the argument. It’s the acknowledgment of a growing issue.

The real problem and real point of discussion is the fact that Black men are favoring white men and women as they rise in status. Dating a white person is considered dating up compared to dating a black person. And while the conversation doesn’t stop at celebrities, its being focused on them because they have given a spotlight to the issue.


But everyone, there’s no real saving grace or safe way to tackle this problem. It’s a conversation that needs to happen and unfortunately often happens because of black male celebrities sharing their love lives with us. It’s time we sit down and have a true conversation about the intersection of race and dating. But let’s transition away from Ryan Russell and other celebrities (besides as examples).

While they helped us to get here and start discussing it, let’s not look poorly on the men who have kickstarted the talks. Instead, let’s get down to being real about race and relationships, so we can figure out where this underlying issue is coming from and how to fix it.

Update (09/01/2019): This article has been updated to include statistical data from the Pew Research Center to back its stance. Also, more words are added to further express the goal of not questioning interracial relationships but the growing case of black men valuing interracial relationships over dating black men/women.

18 thoughts on “Is Ryan Russell Dating A White Man Bad?”

  1. This is an important article I argue the gay community is a part of the problem. Whiteness is valued in gay culture not blackness. Even RuPaul has a white man. The twitter comments point out the truth these black gay male celebrities are very prejudiced they value whiteness. They think dating or marrying a white man will help them be accepted. And it will not.

  2. It’s sick, let People date whoever they want it’s none of your business who a person dates white black Asian native American Hispanics as long as their in love take care of your own business!!!!

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  4. Do they really date white men as a way to “move up” or are there just fewer black men at their level of success? Saying there are “plenty of successful black gay men out there” doesn’t really tell us much of anything. Black gay men are a tiny percentage of the population, ‘successful’ ones even less so. When you filter down by mutual attraction, relationship status, and geographic location the pool gets even smaller. I’m sure there are plenty of men who prize white skin above all others, but I think there are a multitude of other factors at play as well.

    And, for the sake of the argument here, let’s accept the notion that a certain percentage of black men prefer to date outside their race – where does it leave black men who would like to date other black men ‘on their level’? Depending on where they are, they might have to swipe past twenty men before they find another brother. Then they might find there’s no mutual attraction, the other guy might even be colorstruck. Should they keep ignoring all the non-black gay men out there as some sort of push for celebrating black love?

  5. Bias is in front of our faces each day as Black gay men. We have been subjected to seeing white men as the ultimate. Porn for instance. Black men are always coupled with white men and rarely seen preforming with other black men. Black men are usually depicted as TOPS, pleasing or breaking in a doe eyed white boy, whereas the Black man is seen as a thug or brute banging away (Culter X, Phoenix) . Gay TV adds, commercials always show gay interracial couples and never two black men or Hispanic together. There is an issue here folks. It can’t be preference when ur programmed.

    • It is amazing reading the negative comments. This essay is well thought out backed up by statistics and research. It is not a surprise that black gay public figures are with white men. The article attempts to answer the question it is about privilege and status. Since these black gay celebrities have money their circles of friends gets whiter. It could be about class and demographics as well. Black gay men got a point why can’t a black gay male celebrity date another gay black man? It is a fair question. Someone mentioned gay porn of course he is correct. Gay culture places white men as the apex as the status symbol all men of color should aspire to. It would be NICE to see a black gay male couple who are famous

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  7. Stop the hating.

    It should matter who dates who whatever their skin colour nationality or sexuality, we all need to be more accepting of other choices.

    • Yes, I agree. And in fact, I say that in my first two sentences. It shouldn’t matter what race/ethnicity someone is dating. But, there is also an underlying issue here where Black men are preferring to date White people (or interracially in general) as a way to “date up.”

      I recently updated this article to include statistic data and a restated purpose of article to express this point. If you didn’t see that yet, feel free to refresh and read the update.

      • Whatever the reason it’s still their choice who they date, thats the point. If its to “Date Up” then thats shallow on their part, but who are any of us to judge.

        Your decisions are reasons could be different to mine on any topic, and thats your perfectly acceptable as its your choice. So lets not condemn anyone for their choices.

        Time will tell the true reasons as relationships based on image or status tend to be problematic, personally i prefer to think good for them and be happy for them as i dont know the ins and outs of their relationship, only they know those

        • Very fair point. That’s honestly the stance I’ve learned to take with the preferences on dating apps topic. (But dear lord do I not want to get into that conversation lol).

          I still feel like expressing the stance in the article is important for the sake of discussing the community and social aspects. But you’re correct in that life is ultimately about finding personal happiness, so there’s no point in judging the individual.

          I feel like this is a conversation that works on two levels. Accepting the individual’s right to live and love, and acknowledging that there is a trend here worth discussing.

  8. Quit race-bating. YOU make the situation worse by highlighting the issue. He could be dating a purple person for all I care.

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  10. Does anyone remember when it was rightwing conservatives who would clutch their pearls when confronted with interracial relationships? Remember when they were the ones concerned about racial purity? My how the roles have reversed.


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