Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith have written an interesting - and rather disturbing in its implications - article for Publishers Weekly. Basically, an agent they queried with a new project
"offered to sign us on the condition that we make the gay character straight, or else remove his viewpoint and all references to his sexual orientation. " (the bold font is from the original article).
That's not right. I don't know how big the market for GLBTQ literature is (having lived in Toronto I'm rather skewed towards thinking no one should have a problem with GLBTQ issues, despite having grown up in a religion that expressly forbids that lifestyle), but I know it's there. The store where I work has its own Gay/Lesbian fiction section because of the demand for known GLBTQ books. Books are a great way of learning about new cultures/lifestyles. And it's a shame that some people think there isn't a market for people who want to spend time with things that are 'different'. And frankly, there are enough people out there for whom any topic isn't about people who are different. And doesn't everyone deserve the joy of reading a book and thinking, 'that character's just like me'?
The article linked to YA reading lists for people who may otherwise have trouble finding books about people like them. Here's an annotated list of young adult books with major GLTBQ characters, my own list (for people who want adult rather than YA books) and a list of books with protagonists who are people of colour A-L, M-Z.
The more people who speak out about this, and state that they WANT characters of all races/religions/sexual orientations, etc. the better.
If you're interested in some statistics about how many GLTBQ YA books are published each year in the U.S., Malinda Lo has done up some interesting charts.