The tragic story behind Damon’s exit from POSE

Fans of the TV show POSE were surprised when one of the central characters of the show was hardly in the first episode of the third series, and then was written out of the story in the second episode.

The character of Damon has been played by Ryan Jamaal Swain since the show made its debut. We’ve followed his character from being violently kicked out of home when his father discovered he was gay, to finding his found family with the House of Evangelista in the world of ballroom, and achieving his professional goals in training to be a dancer.

Each series of POSE starts with a time-jump, propelling the story forward a few years. The latest and final season is set in 1994.

In the first episode we discover that Pray Tell, played by Billy Porter, has developed a drinking problem, and it’s revealed that in the years that have passed since we last saw the characters Damon has also battled alcoholism. Damon tries to encourage Pray to engage with Alcoholics Anonymous.

In the next episode, house mother Blanca announces that Damon has “fallen off the wagon” and moved to live with a cousin in Charleston, South Carolina. Fans were shocked that one of the show’s central characters was not given a on-screen send off.

The reason for Swain’s departure from the series though, is heartbreaking. In July 2020, as the show began filming, the actor’s younger sister was fatally shot in Birmingham Alabama. Raven Lynette Swain was just 24 years old.

“The unimaginable happened last night, my heart, little sister, my ride or die, my partner in life took her last breath,” Swain wrote on Instagram last year.

Swain’s former boyfriend has been charged with hiring a man to murder her. Demarcus Chandler, who was in prison already, allegedly hired Solomon Minatee III to kill Raven Swain in return for a payment of USD$8,000.

Show runner Steven Canals has commented on Ryan Jamal Swain leaving the production saying the death has affected the way they wrote the show’s final episodes, “As one of our family members, we wanted to honor that and give him the space that he needed.”

OIP Staff

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