There are many differing symptoms that are associated with the anxiety disorder obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Homosexuality anxiety—defined as an obsessive fear of homosexual thoughts, images or feelings, or an obsessive fear of being a homosexual or being perceived by others as a homosexual—is one of those recognized symptoms, although nobody can say precisely how many people with OCD also have this symptom.
Some experts believe that sexual obsessions are found in about one-quarter of all diagnosed OCD patients, but this doesn't tell us how many experience homosexual anxiety specifically. Furthermore, because of the sensitivity and potential embarrassment of the subject, it's likely an under-reported symptom.
Homosexual Anxiety and OCD (HOCD)
In people with OCD, all that's needed to kick-start HOCD is a simple little spark, such as a fleeting thought while watching a movie that an actor is handsome. From there, the flood of thoughts can begin.
A person with obsessive-compulsive disorder who experiences homosexual anxiety will likely:
- Find it impossible to stop seeing mental images or thoughts of homosexuality;
- Agonize over what it means, whether it indicates that they themselves are gay or not;
- Agonize over whether the conclusions they reached are valid;
- Spend hours looking for evidence ("checking") that proves they aren't gay, such as watching or masturbating to heterosexual pornography, remembering sexual encounters with the opposite sex, trying to have sex with a girlfriend or spouse etc;
- Seek reassurance from friends that they aren't gay;
- Ritualize some behavior in an effort to 'make sure' they aren't gay or to fight the anxiety they feel;
- A person with obsessive-compulsive disorder who experiences homosexual anxiety will likely:
HOCD is not an Identity Crisis
It needs to be noted that HOCD is not to be confused with an identity crisis. Additionally, people who suffer from HOCD are not homophobic, and they do not actively dislike homosexuals. These things have nothing whatsoever to do with this disorder.
Instead, according to Monnica Williams, people with HOCD "fear that [they] will no longer have access to the opposite sex, something they highly value. They worry that the sexual life they have enjoyed or imagined with be suddenly revoked and replaced with something unappealing and foreign."