Paulie was born in England, to a British father of Scottish lineage and an American mother who was a naturalized citizen. He grew up in England in the 60s, raised primarily by his father and his Aunt Bettina, who moved in following his mother's passing. Along with his first boyfriend, a slightly older boy named Colin, he became a huge fan of the Beatles, and little Beatle-isms find their way into Paulie's dialogue from time to time.
He moved to America in the early 70s and took up residence with his mother's sister in Boston. After her passing, he became increasingly involved in the gay scene, thanks to his involvement with John Brockhurst. Through John, he also became romantically involved with Arthur Korsky, and to a young man by the name of Keith. When a friend of Paulie's by the name of Graham killed himself after being diagnosed with AIDS, he decided he was going to withdraw from his more promiscuous lifestyle to protect himself. At his "going away" party, Arthur hooked up with Keith, and the three of them went home together. Back home, Arthur passed out, Keith made a move on Paulie, and an inebriated Paulie decided that one last fling couldn't hurt. Through this liaison, Paulie became HIV positive.
After a period of shock and mourning, Paulie emerged from his grief and began to try to do things with the considerable wealth he'd inherited from his mother's family. He made donations to various charities, gave to local schools, helped friends get started in business (including John, who bought a gay-themed bookstore called Triangle Books), and started obtaining medicines and treatments to defer the long-term effects of his HIV. He was asked to lecture at several of the schools he'd donated to on safe sex, and at such a lecture at Harvard University, he met Douglas Pope. He began a relationship with Doug several months later, and the two have been together ever since. Recently, he has also become an "Uncle" to Doug's son, Jason.
In Issue #7, his confrontation with Ken over the latter's visible injuries (at the hands of an abusive bull named "Bo") prompted the cheetah to move out; in Issue #8, we (and Ken) find out that, three months on, Paulie has not rented the room or removed Ken's belongings. When asked why, he told the stunned Ken, "I don't give up on my family that easily".
Many of the comic's stories begin from Paulie's point of view, in the form of journal entries. It is indicated that Paulie wants to leave them behind when he dies for Douglas to read, so that he may remember their time together. Paulie represents a lot of the heart of the comic, and a recent poll shows him as the favorite character of fans of the series. His combination of quiet reliability, love for the family he has created, and the pain of his past mistake seems to have struck a chord with those who enjoy this series. Paulie was a fan of the Beatles in their heyday ("I grew up in England in the Sixties. The Beatles were my band.") and owns many first-pressing records, among them what aoppears to be an autographed copy of the White Album, signed by all four Beatles. (This fact greatly impressed Jason, of course.)