Donelan was born in Boston, but grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the son of advertising artist Paul Donelan. He studied art at Southeastern Massachusetts Technological Institute but did not finish a degree, and went to work in retail. In 1977, disappointed that the pioneering gay comic strip Miss Thing had ended its run in The Advocate, Donelan submitted a cartoon to the publication, which turned into a long-running series of his own. Artists in the same period included Rupert Kinnard, an artist known as the first African American artist who publicize his homosexual identity. "It's a Gay Life" gently lampooned gay culture of the time, focusing primarily on young and middle-aged gay men. He continued to work in retailing while producing the series, which also yielded two paperback reprints: Drawing on the Gay Experience (1987) and Donelan's Back (1988). His work has appeared in Frontiers magazine, in issues of Gay Comix (including one cover), and in the gay comics anthology Meatmen.
- Drawing on the Gay Experience: Cartoons from The Advocate, by Gerard P. Donelan, "About the Cartoonist", 1987, Liberation Publications
- GBLTQ - arts - Comic Strips and Cartoons
- Booker, Keith (October 28, 2014). Comics through Time : A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. p. 599.
- Gay Comix #7 at Grand Comics Database
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