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Charles (Chasen) Gaver, the eldest of three children, was born in 1953 in Wooster, Ohio to Richard and Helen Gaver. After taking a B.A. from The College of Wooster in Ohio, Gaver worked as a per diem paralegal at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.

Gaver identified himself foremost as a "performance poet." In 1978 he received one of the first grants awarded to an openly gay artist dealing with gay subject matter from the District of Columbia's Commission on Arts and Humanities. Gaver was also the recipient of larger grants in 1981, 1986, and 1987, which enabled him to collaborate with colleagues as well as to document his performances using photographs and video/audio cassettes. In 1977 Gaver began writing sporadically for The Washington Blade; ten years later his book reviews would become a regular feature. In addition, Gaver wrote novels, essays, plays, poems and short stories, many of which were loosely autobiographical. Gaver's interest in human relationships and his identity as a gay man were common themes in his work.

Although Gaver spent most of his later life in the D.C. area, he made several trips abroad, notably one to Morocco in 1982 where he was introduced to the ex-patriot writer Paul Bowles. Correspondence between Gaver and Bowles dates from 1982-1987.

Gaver was also involved in two organizations; the National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) for which he started a chapter while attending The College of Wooster, and the Washington D.C.-based artists collective Black Artists/White Artists. He also participated in Young Audiences, a performing arts program for inner city children.

In 1987 Gaver was diagnosed with AIDS and began extensively documenting his life with the illness in "Fever Journal," a narrative account including clippings and correspondence from October 1987-June 1988, and the medical notebooks, dated 4/17/87 - 1/31/89 and 2/2/89 - 3/10/89 which listed Gaver's daily food and drug intake as well as his temperature and diminishing body weight. Gaver died of complications due to AIDS in Washington, D.C. in March 1989.