Well, everyone os entitled to their opinions, for me all companions are great so far.
1- Astarion os not gay.
2- In my opinion both Gale and Wyll are both too "manly" for my taste, but I might give Gale a chance.
3- Shadowherat and Lae'zel have no difference that you can see? They are pretty much opposites? Shadowherat is calm, manipulativa and keeps a low profile, while Lae'zel is extrmely in everyones face, doesn't care to play social games and just plain intimidades anyone and has a very short fuse. Just because you didn't like them doesn't mean they are the same or poorly writen.
I'm baffled how people can't take one single game with characters that are not 100% traditional stereotypes before they start complaining, even though good part of them are still 90% traditional stereotypes. I guess people just got too entitled too allways get this perfectly traditional character they want and feel Very Personaly attacked the one time they don't get exactly that.
Anyway, I'm very satisfied with the way characters are, even though they don't seem to be doing much effort to make "woke characters", which is good, and are doing an awesome job at doing believable characters who fit the setting and have complex and realistic personalities intead of Just being a dudebro or a oldschool Disney princess