I was reading A Man Called Dove (2014) by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a.: J. K. Rowling) when I came across a word I had never heard used in this way. The book is a translation from Swedish by a Swedish translator, Henning Koch.
After consulting my slang dictionaries I found that bent is indeed a British derogatory noun and an adjective for homosexual. Another one to add to the list of nasties.“Bent are you?
“Ove! says Parvaneh and slaps him [[Ove]] on the arm.
What?! [[says Ove]]
“You don’t say . . . you don’t call it that,” Parvaneh says, clearly unwilling to pronounce the word again.
“Queer?” Ove offers. . . .
“Don’t talk like that!” she orders him. . . .
“Can’t you say ‘bent? [[asks Ove]] What are you supposed to say nowadays?”
“You say homosexual. Or an LGBT person,” Parvaneh interrupts before she can stop herself.
Below, I’ll give the full listing of the many interesting dictionary meanings of the word bent:
CASSELL’S DICTIONARY OF SLANG
BENT noun (also BENT-SHOT) [1950s and still in use]: A homosexual. [See bent adjective (5)
1) [mid-19th century and still in use] Intoxicated by liquor or [1930s and still in use] drugs.
2) [1910s]; Spoiled, ruined.
3)[1910s and still in use]: Criminal, corrupt.
4)[1930s and still in use]: Illegal, stolen.
5) [1950s and still in use]: Sexually eccentric, especially homosexual.
6) [1960s]: Impoverished, penniless.
7) [1960s and still in use] (originally U.S.): Eccentric, acting oddly, behaving in a strange manner.
8) [1960s and still in use (U.S.): Angry, excited, usually in the phrase , bent out of shape, adjective.
Or more succinctly, and confirming that the sexual expression is mainly U.K., which Cassell’s failed to mention.
THE NEW PARTRIDGE DICTIONARY OF SLANG AND UNCONVENTIONAL ENGLISH
BENT noun: A homosexual U.K. 1957
BENT adjective <Does your family know you’re bent?> —Babycakes by page 214, 1984
BENT adjective(U.K. 1957: Sexually deviant. <Being tall I could pass for a foreign soldier, albeit a slightly bent one.>
No etymology is offered for the sexual bent but its pretty easy to see that it came comes from a deviation from the correct state, from the normal state; damaged, crooked, etc. There is also a bodily position that could be involved if one thought along those lines.
And who can forget that powerful,infamous, slur from the 1970s, Get bent! – Drop dead!; Go to hell!
Ken Greenwald – October 7, 2015 (Straight as an arrow, but these days not necessarily anything to be proud of.)