What Is Homosexual OCD?

OCD is a commonly-used abbreviation for obsessive-compulsive disorder, a psychiatric condition characterized by recurrent obsessions and compulsions that cause anxiety. Most people associate OCD with repetitive cleaning or tidiness.

However, OCD is quite complex, and there are many subtypes. Homosexual OCD, a form of sexual orientation OCD, is one subtype. 

Persistent and troubling thoughts characterize this condition, accompanied by urges and impulses related to obsessions and compulsions. The intrusive thoughts associated with OCD may be related to one’s sexuality, as is the case in homosexual OCD.

A person who identifies as homosexual experiences sexual attraction to people of the same biological sex. While homosexuality is widely embraced in places like the United States, many people still struggle with their sexuality.

Worrying thoughts about peer acceptance or the challenges surrounding having children in a same-sex relationship are typical and are not signs of homosexual OCD, which we will discuss in detail in this article. 

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About homosexual OCD

Sexuality is a spectrum. Some people identify as entirely straight, others identify as entirely gay, but many people fall somewhere in between. For people who are pansexual, attraction is not in any way linked to a person’s biological sex or identifying gender.

Sexual orientation OCD can affect anyone, regardless of sexual orientation. Homosexual OCD involves repeated intrusive attractions, thoughts, and images of a sexual nature focused solely on people of the same sex. 

If you have intrusive sexual thoughts about people of the same sex but identify as straight, you may wonder if you’re gay or if people will associate your actions with homosexuality. The distinguishing factor in homosexual OCD is that the thoughts are unwanted, and the person fears being, becoming, or being perceived as gay.

This fear is often associated with anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and self-loathing. Of those seeking treatment for OCD, homosexual OCD affects approximately 11.9%.¹

In an alternative form of sexual orientation OCD, a person who identifies as gay may struggle with sexual thoughts about the opposite sex and may worry about being or being perceived as straight and losing touch with their sexual identity. 

Causes of homosexual OCD

Research on sexual orientation OCD is limited, and the cause is unknown. Some people with homosexual OCD report having experienced traumatic events during childhood. Traumas include being physically abused, witnessing violence, being sexually abused, and enduring bullying at school.²

While some say this condition is simply a matter of social conditioning, biological mechanisms are likely to play a role (as they do in other forms of OCD).

Signs of homosexual OCD

Homosexual OCD is associated with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and substance abuse. People with the disorder may struggle with guilt linked to urges to masturbate and watch pornography.

Additionally, the following symptoms may be indicative of homosexual OCD:

  • Obsessions about being gay

  • Worrying that people who are gay may be attracted to you 

  • The sexual attraction that doesn’t align with one’s self-perceived sexual orientation

  • Intrusive thoughts that include touching, kissing, or having sex with somebody of the same gender are coupled with compulsions in the form of checking (testing oneself to confirm heterosexuality) 

  • Attempts to avoid situations where these obsessions occur

  • Feeling guilt or shame about intrusive thoughts

  • Having urges to masturbate

  • Avoiding people of the same sex for fear of attraction

  • Seeking reassurance of one’s sexuality

  • Having thoughts about hurting yourself

  • Trying to control your emotions about homosexuality

People with any type of OCD may struggle with persistent negative feelings about themselves. Typically, a person with homosexual OCD identifies as straight and has no history of attraction to people of the same sex.

OCD is marked by obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted mental images or thoughts that repeatedly occur. Compulsions are rituals performed to reduce the intensity of obsessions.

Common homosexual OCD obsessions

People with homosexual OCD become obsessed with their sexuality and may develop more than one sexual obsession. These obsessions include thoughts of same-sex attraction, fantasies about being attracted to someone of the same sex, homosexual urges, and masturbating to images of men or women. Some people experience these obsessions almost every day. 

I shouldn’t have these thoughts

This obsession is one of the most common homosexual OCD thoughts. You may think about doing something you feel you shouldn't. For example, masturbating to a photo or video. This obsession is often accompanied by self-deprecation, like saying, "You probably won't even remember this tomorrow," or "No one would ever find out."

I don't deserve love

People who struggle with this thought tend to believe they are undeserving of love and are, therefore, unworthy of receiving positive attention from others. It comes from having an unclear sexual orientation. However, you may still feel that others should treat you well while hating yourself for your lack of worthiness.

People can tell I'm gay

Many people with homosexual OCD fear that people will know or suspect they’re gay. In addition to fearing being discovered, you may also worry that if someone were to discover your sexuality, you would face discrimination, ridicule, or violence.

Other homosexual OCD obsessions include;

  • Questioning your sexuality

  • Wondering if others are questioning your sexuality when you say or do something

  • Questioning if your hobbies and interests indicate homosexuality

  • Doubting the authenticity of your heterosexual relationship

  • Worrying about your sexuality affecting your sex life

  • Studying LGBTQ content to compare it to your experiences

Common homosexual OCD compulsions

  • Feeling compelled to urgently prove your sexual orientation

  • Seeking sexual encounters to confirm your sexual orientation

  • Assessing your patterns of arousal

  • Trying to prove you’re straight

  • Avoiding people who are gay

  • Seeking reassurance about your sexual orientation from those close to you

  • Creating sexual images and scenarios in your mind to assess arousal

Effects of homosexual OCD

OCD isn’t limited to obsessions and compulsions. It’s also linked to:

Anxiety

You may experience anxiety when you realize that you may be attracted to the same sex. Stress from not understanding your thoughts may worsen your homosexual OCD symptoms.

You may feel compelled to prove your sexuality. Trying to balance or fight compulsions and obsessions can become overwhelming. 

Hopelessness

When you struggle with homosexual OCD, you may experience hopelessness, especially if stigma prevents you from seeking help. You may feel as if you have caused the intrusive thoughts, and sometimes, you can feel like no one understands your struggle. 

Depression

Homosexual OCD can cause severe anxiety and obsessive thoughts. You may avoid activities you enjoy, become obsessed with particular images and people, have difficulty falling asleep, and feel depressed. Sometimes, you may feel out of control and experience depressive symptoms such as fatigue, lack of motivation, and low self-esteem. 

Treating homosexual OCD

Like all forms of OCD, homosexual OCD is treatable. It’s essential to note that therapies for homosexual OCD are not conversion therapies aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation. Rather, homosexual OCD treatments strive to reduce the obsessions, compulsions, and anxiety associated with the condition.

Doctors typically treat OCD with a combination of psychotherapy and medications. 

Exposure response prevention (ERP) therapy and medication

ERP therapy helps you take control of how you react to triggers. Studies on homosexual OCD are rare, but in a case report on an individual with the condition, the combination of a daily fluoxetine regimen and ERP therapy produced improvement within ten weeks and elimination of symptoms after five months.

In ERP therapy, a qualified therapist will expose you to triggers and help you learn a healthier response. 

When to see a doctor

If the obsessions, compulsions, or anxiety from homosexual OCD affect your ability to concentrate on your daily activities, it is best to see a certified psychotherapist. Remember, a therapist won’t judge you; anything you share will be confidential. 

The lowdown

People with homosexual OCD experience many troubling thoughts about their sexual orientation. Some are so impactful that they may prevent a person from living normally. While there is no known cure for homosexual OCD, therapy with a qualified professional can provide relief.

FAQ

What it's like to live with homosexual OCD?

You may find it difficult to interact with others when you have homosexual OCD. You may have thoughts and feelings that don’t align with your sexual orientation, and this mismatch may cause significant distress. 

Is homosexual OCD a real thing?

Homosexual OCD is a subtype of OCD but is not a diagnostic term. It refers to a set of symptoms surrounding sexual orientation.

Can you manage homosexual OCD alone?

Working with a licensed therapist is the most effective way to manage your OCD symptoms. While anxiety-reducing techniques can help make your condition more bearable, it’s best to seek professional guidance if your symptoms disrupt your day-to-day life. 

How can I get rid of intrusive thoughts?

It’s not advisable to ignore your intrusive thoughts. Instead, learn to identify them, label them as intrusive, and accept them. If you’re ready to seek professional help, a qualified therapist can help retrain your brain to reduce the incidence and impact of intrusive thoughts. 

Get help today

Are you seeking a diagnostic clinical trial for homosexual OCD? Contact us at HealthMatch, where we help you understand your condition, inform you of your treatment options, and give you access to leading specialists. Visit our website or email hello@healthmatch.io.

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