So apparently, despite not having named the agent who telling two authors she would only consider their YA book if the gay character was made straight, the agent has posted a rejoinder stating that wasn't the change she requested. And the authors have posted a response to the rejoinder sticking with their story as written. Now, I don't know any of the people involved and I don't know the whole story, so take sides or not as you choose. What interests me is that this discussion happened. Getting the idea that we need more GLTBQ friendly fiction (YA or otherwise) is a good message.
I particularly like Andy's comment a decent way down the page on the rejoinder post. He's replying to the idea that if readers want more books with GLTBQ content, then it's up to them to buy the books already out:
... I think a point that gets missed is the exclusion of LGBT portrayals is a systematic problem. So to say that the solution is in the hands of readers, to prove that there's a market for LGBT books, is short-sighted, and to me, hurtful.(Click here to see his entire comment.)
.6% (at best) of all YA books published last year (excluding self-pubbed) had significant LGBT characters. That's not because of one homophobic agent, one homophobic publishing house. That's the way the publishing industry works.
To draw a parallel to other types of inequity, when we talk about the gender wage gap, women making 80 cents on the dollar, we cannot (sensibly) argue that it's the fault of one bad employer, or the fault of women, or the fault of women not demonstrating that they are worthy of earning the same wage as men.
The solution requires change on every level - publishers, marketers, agents, authors, and yes readers. To just toss it back on authors of LGBT YA, or readers of LGBT YA, pretends that there's an equal playing field for all kinds of books. It ignores the inherent heterosexual privilege in the industry. ...
Well said, Andy. It's up to the industry as a whole to make things more inclusive, for all groups. And making people aware of the problem is one small step towards change.
And if you want to read more on this, Steven Dos Santos has posted a rejection letter he received from an agency because his protagonist was gay. He also comments on the same thing Andy does, with one addition:
[Agents commenting on the marketability of gay characters in YA] seem to be perpetuating this marketing issue by stating that “gay” books don’t sell as well as “straight” books and people have to buy more “gay” books so that publishers will realize they’re in demand and want them. Uh…if publishers aren’t publishing that many “gay” books to begin with, just which and where are these “gay” books that readers are supposed to buy to prove the demand for them?
Scott Tracey has also posted about her difficulties getting published.
(Thanks to Grasping for the Wind for the links to most of these posts.)