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Last Updated: Monday, 10 November, 2003, 11:17 GMT
Photo assignment: Ray's last weeks
Ray's face
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Ray Fournier died from illness arising from Aids in Florida on 12 October 2003. His friend Susan Biersteker took this photo one week before he died - one of several which chronicle his final days.
Ray and his friend Al
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Ray and Al were friends for 40 years. Both were raised as good Catholic boys in Rhode Island. Years after they took their girlfriends to their high school prom, they marched together for gay rights.
Ray and his friend Rob
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This summer Rob, with his energy and enthusiasm, was always by Ray's side. Ray was often happy. I still can hear Rob say: "Come on Ray, you can do it. Let's float in the pool, let's listen to music."
Ray's welcome home party
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Ray came home to die. We organised a party to welcome him home from hospital. Lesleigh brought champagne and pate from Paris, friends talked, drank and listened to music. It was one of those nights you want to last forever.
Dries with his Uncle Ray
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Dries, aged four, and Ray were best buddies. They would walk the dogs, play catch, watch movies and do art together. When I told Dries that Uncle Ray had died, he made one last drawing for him "to take with him in the treasure chest".
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Ray loved the ocean, so his friends decided to gather in a seaside park to reflect on the times we shared. Here Al places Ray's ashes into the "treasure chest" decorated by my son Dries for his Uncle Ray.
Ray's light pictures
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One week after his death, Ray's first one-man show opened in Atlanta. Ray used Lite-Brite toys he found in thrift stores and transformed them into glowing images of Marilyn Monroe, Chairman Mao, Elvis and others.
Rob and Al at Ray's memorial
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Rob and Al waiting for guests to arrive at Ray's memorial.
Dispersing the ashes
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On 30 October, friends gathered on the beach to disperse Ray's ashes in the Atlantic. In high winds and driving rain we waded into the ocean to spread his ashes in the waves and let them float around the world eternally.
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Ray has shown us the real face of Aids - and there are many others. I wanted with this essay to show that Aids still kills, even when Aids medication is available. Made for my friend and son's Uncle Ray, with love.


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