First seen in issue #1 of David Lapham’s Young Liars, Donatella, also known as Don Diego, Don, and Donnie, appears to be a transgender person and one of a group of friends that inhabit part of the Manhattan club scene. Not enough information has been by Donatella to ascertain the character’s sexuality, though Danny, one of the other characters refers in some internal monologue to Donatella as a guy. Donatella presents herself visually throughout the story as a woman. Another character, Sadie, mentions that Donnie is sometimes a sex worker when rent money is short. We also learn through Danny that Donatella’s dream is to open a café where “some of the waiters are girls and some aren’t, but you can’t tell which is which.” Donatella is beaten up and called a “faggot punk” when a drug deal goes bad in one of the club’s restrooms.
In later issues the stories moved from Manhattan to various locations. Lapham sparingly revisited the character as both Donatella and Don, who’s been convinced he leads a perfectly normal and boring life as a therapist, just as the other residents of the “Brown Bag” dominated town (a reference to Wal-Mart) are similarly convinced that their lives are numbingly typical. My understanding of the confusing plot, which is undoubtedly compounded by cancellation, is limited, making an attempt for real clarification of the character’s significance moot. Lapham never fully addressed the character’s orientation and gender identity.
David Lapham is Donatella’s creator. Art by Lapham and Lee Loughridge from Young Liars #1. Young Liars #1 is cover dated May 2008 and the series ran for 18 issues.
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