How to Accept That You Are Gay

This article was co-authored by Eric A. Samuels, PsyD. Eric A. Samuels, Psy.D. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in private practice in San Francisco and Oakland, California. He received a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from The Wright Institute in 2016 and is a member of the American Psychological Association and Gaylesta, the Psychotherapist Association for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Eric specializes in working with men, young adults, and people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 34 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 895,244 times.

If you feel very attracted to members of the same sex or both sexes but struggle with accepting that fact, here is a guide to help you. You have found out your sexual orientation, and you are perfectly normal. Accepting who you are – and being proud of who you are – is the next step on the road to having a successful gay or lesbian relationship. Some people have difficulty accepting their sexual orientation, either because of personal or societal discomfort or pressure. Most people in the LGBT+ community know from experience that accepting your sexuality will lead to your becoming a happier, more open person.

Sebastian Castro – You’re Gay Lyrics

IT’S MY FANTASY I AM BUBBLE GOD ! YOU, YEAH YOU YOU’RE GAY YOU JUST DONT KNOW IT YET NA x10 YOU YEAH YOU DUMP YOUR GIRL OR YOU KNOW BETTER YET NA x10 LET’S GET MARRIED NOW SO I DON’T HAVE A RACK BUT IM BETTER ENDOWED BEBEBETTER ENDOWED INVITE YOUR FRIENDS TWO IS A COMPANY AND WE WANT A CROWD WEWEWE WANT A CROWD YOU’RE ONE ONE POP POP POP AWAY FROM A BUBBLE (FROM A BUBBLE) FROM A BUBBLE DRIPPING WITH MY FUCKING TASTE CHORUS YOU, YEAH YOU YOU’RE GAY YOU JUST DONT KNOW IT YET NA x10 YOU YEAH YOU DUMP YOUR GIRL OR YOU KNOW BETTER YET NA x10 TELL HER GO COME OUT HERE RIGHT NOW PUT OUT YOU, YEAH YOU YOU’RE GAY NANANANANA YOU, YEAH YOU YOU’RE GAY NANANANANA Verse II LET’S GO RIGHT HERE NO ONE IS WATCHING THE COAST IS CLEAR COCOCOCOCOAST IS CLEAR TELL YOU EX GIRLFRIED THE BITCH CAN WATCH FROM THE BEGINNING TO END YOU’RE ONE ONE POP POP POP AWAY FROM A BUBBLE (FROM A BUBBLE) FROM A BUBBLE DRIPPING WITH MY FUCKING TASTE CHORUS YOU, YEAH YOU YOU’RE GAY YOU JUST DONT KNOW IT YET NA x10 YOU YEAH YOU DUMP YOUR GIRL OR YOU KNOW BETTER YET NA x10 TELL HER GO COME OUT HERE RIGHT NOW PUT OUT YOU, YEAH YOU YOU’RE GAY NANANANANA YOU, YEAH YOU YOU’RE GAY NANANANANA HA HA (HA HA) HA HA ( HA HA) HA HA ( HA HA) ( HA HA) Verse III YOURE COMING OUT YOU’RE PUTTING OUT AND WHEN THEY ASK WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT YOULL SAY HE WAS SO HOT I COULDNT KEEP IT STRAIGHT RUN RIGHT NOW BEFORE BEFORE ITS TOO LATE CLOSE THOSE EARS WHEN HE OPENS HIS MOUTH CLOSE YOUR EYES WHEN HE EYES YOU DOWN SOUTH CHORUS YOU, YEAH YOU YOU’RE GAY YOU JUST DONT KNOW IT YET NA x10 YOU YEAH YOU DUMP YOUR GIRL OR YOU KNOW BETTER YET NA x10 TELL HER GO COME OUT HERE RIGHT NOW PUT OUT YOU, YEAH YOU YOU’RE GAY NANANANANA YOU, YEAH YOU YOU’RE GAY NANANANANA YOU, YEAH YOU YOU’RE GAY YOU JUST DONT KNOW IT YET NA x10 YOU YEAH YOU DUMP YOUR GIRL OR YOU KNOW BETTER YET NA x10 TELL HER GO COME OUT HERE RIGHT NOW PUT OUT YOU, YEAH YOU YOU’RE GAY NANANANANA YOU, YEAH YOU YOU’RE GAY NANANANANA

Sebastian Castro - You're Gay Lyrics

You Know You’re Gay When . . . Hardcover – September 1, 1995

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 You Know You're Gay When . . . Hardcover – September 1, 1995

Avenue Q – If You Were Gay Lyrics

Aah, an afternoon alone with my favorite book’Broadway Musicals of the 1940s’No roommate to bother meHow could it get any better than this? Oh, „Hi Rod“, „Hi Nicky“, hey RodYou’ll never guess what happened to meOn the subway this morningThis guy was smiling at me and talking to me That’s very interestingHe was being real friendlyAnd I think he was coming on to meI think he might’ve thought I was gay So, wa, why are you telling me this?Why should I care? I don’t careWhat did you have for lunch today? Oh, you don’t have to get all defensive about it, RodI’m not getting defensiveWhat do I care about some gay guy you met, okay?I’m trying to read Oh, I didn’t mean anything by it, RodI just think it’s something we should be able to talk aboutWell, I don’t want to talk about it Nicky!This conversation is over! Yeah, but Rod, Over! Well, okay, but just so you know?If you were gay, that’d be okay I mean ‚cause, heyI’d like you anyway Because you see if it were meI would feel free to say that I was gayBut I’m not gay, Nicky please, I am trying to readWhat? If you were queer, ah Nicky, I’d still be hereNicky, I’m trying to read this book, year after yearNicky, because you’re dear to me, aah And I know that you, what? Would accept me tooI would? If I told you today, ‚hey, guess what, I’m gay!’But I’m not gay I’m happy just being with you, high button shoes, Pal JoeySo what should it matter to me what you do in bed with guys?Nicky, that is gross, no it’s not If you were gay, I’d shout hooray I am not listeningAnd here I’d stay, la la la la laBut I wouldn’t get in your way, aah You can count on me to always be beside you every dayTo tell you it’s okay, you were just born that wayAnd, as they say it’s in your D.N.A, you’re gayI’m not gay, if you were gay, aah

Avenue Q - If You Were Gay Lyrics

About This Article

If you struggle with accepting your attraction to the same sex, know that being gay is completely normal and you can be proud of who you are by finding support and embracing your individuality. While not everyone needs to know about your sexuality, consider reaching out to family members or close friends who you think will support your lifestyle and can help you process your thoughts. Talking to people who have gone through the same experience can be extremely helpful, so try to find a local or online LGBTQIA group you can turn to for advice and support. It’s also important to understand that you don’t need to conform to gay stereotypes or titles, as they are artificial social constructs. Instead, be genuine with yourself, determine your values, and embrace the hobbies, ideas, and goals that make you an individual! For more tips from our co-author, like how to deal with outside pressure to change, read this summary help you?YesNo

About This Article

So is this the ‘Q’ in LGBTQ+?

The Q in LGBTQ+ can stand for “questioning” or “queer” — and sometimes both.

Someone who’s questioning is someone who’s currently exploring their sexuality, and so folks who are exploring whether they’re bisexual (AKA bi-curious) can fall into that category.

What about queer? The answer is a little more complicated.

When it comes to sexuality terms, there’s generally a definition that most folks who identify with the term use. But the e-x-a-c-t definition of different sexuality terms can vary based on who’s doing the defining.

So, some people who identify as bi-curious may use a similar definition for bi-curious as the definition for queer, and vice versa.

But bi-curious and queer typically *aren’t* synonymous.

Broadly speaking, queer is defined as not the norm. Meaning: not cisgender, not heterosexual, or not allosexual.

But far more than a gender or sexuality identity, for most queer people, queer is also a political identity.

Who can be bi-curious? 

Typically, when people talk about bi-curiosity, they’re talking about people who are (or were) heterosexual who are now exploring attraction to people with genders similar to theirs, says Ochs.

But make no mistake: “People who are (or previously were) gay or lesbian can be bi-curious, too,” she says. “And same goes for any other sexual identity.”

Why is this distinction so contentious for some?

Sadly, notes Noel, “there’s a lot of stigma surrounding bi-curiosity.”

Why? “Some people believe that when cis and (previously?) heterosexual women identify as bi-curious, they’re doing it to appease the male gaze,” she explains. In other words: They’re doing it to be hot.

Spoiler alert: Cis and (previously?) heterosexual people of any gender can be genuinely interested in exploring the different genders they’re attracted to!

“There’s also a fear amongst the LGBTQ+ community that bi-curious people are outsiders who are going to infiltrate queer spaces, mess with its members, and then leave,” explains Ochs.

In other words, there’s a fear that bi-curious people are going to harm more established members of the LGBTQ+ community by dating them in a half-assed way.

This fear totally ignores the fact that LGBTQ+ people have the agency to make informed decisions about who they do — or don’t — date.

Ultimately, concerns around the term bi-curiosity are usually just biphobia in another costume.

However you identify is valid. And someone else’s discomfort with your sexuality or the sexuality label you use for yourself doesn’t make your identity any less valid.

Where can you learn more?

“If you’re coming from a heterosexual background and are interested in exploring similar-gender attraction, I recommend learning more about both LGBTQ+ culture in general and bisexuality specifically,” says Ochs.

If you’ve already been a part of the LGBTQ+ community — meaning, previously have or currently do identify as lesbian, gay, pansexual, or queer — Ochs recommends spending some time better understanding the role bisexuals have played in LGBTQ+ rights movement, as well as biphobia within the LGBTQ+ community.

What is HOCD?

HOCD stands for Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is a term that is used to describe having unwanted intrusive thoughts in relation to your sexual preference. Also known as Sexual Orientation OCD; a form of OCD where the individual experiences doubt and mistakenly thinks their sexual preference is changing.

This type of OCD does not discriminate. If you are a lesbian woman, gay man or heterosexual man or woman, if you suffer from the doubt caused by OCD, you can obsess and question your long-standing sexual identity. This form of OCD causes significant distress to the person, but you can end the cycle of doubt by engaging in treatment.

This page contains informational content on HOCD. If you were looking for Self Help, you could find it here; if you wish to read more articles on sexual orientation OCD, you can find them here.

Page last reviewed and edited by Dr Elaine Ryan 21 March 2021

Table of contents

HOCD stands for Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and it is characterised by having unwanted thoughts about your sexual orientation. These ‘thoughts’ are known as ‘obsessions’, and I shall discuss this later on in this article.

It can take the form of purely obsessive thought (intrusive thought), including thoughts and urges relating to your sexual preference. Still, there are usually hidden compulsions – compulsions are things you do to make yourself feel better, to reassure yourself your sexual preference has not changed. This could be watching porn to make sure you are straight or looking at guys to see if you are attracted to them.

People with HOCD constantly question their sexual preference and are troubled by thoughts that they might be gay. Before developing HOCD, you would not have given any thought to your sexual preference as it would have been a given.

An important point to note is that it is not the content of the thoughts that are the problem, i.e. whether you are gay, lesbian or heterosexual, the problem is what you do with the thoughts; the analysis, the checking, the need for certainty and reassurance is the problem; in other words, the compulsions. These are all characteristics of OCD and can be treated.

If you have been heterosexual all your life, you will still be heterosexual; it just feels like you might be gay and not know it. Likewise, if you have been a lesbian, comfortable with your sexual identity all your life, this will not have changed. Rather you are being plagued by the doubt and intrusive thoughts that are characteristic of OCD. 

Secondary navigation

During puberty, you have lots of emotions and sexual feelings. It’s normal for girls to think about girls in a sexual way, and for boys to think about boys in a sexual way.

Some people realise they prefer people of the opposite sex, while others feel they prefer people of the same sex. Some people realise they are gay, lesbian or bisexual at an early age, while others may not know until later in life.

Some young people may also be confused about their sexual identity. They may be asexual, where you’re not interested in sex at all, or transgender, where people believe there is a mismatch between their biological sex and identity as a boy or girl. 

You do not choose your sexuality, it chooses you. Nobody knows what makes people gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans. Whatever your sexuality, you deserve to be with someone you love.

What if I’m gay, lesbian or bisexual?

It can help to talk to other people who are going through the same thing. Find out if there’s a young men’s or women’s group in your area for lesbian, gay or bisexual people.

These groups might be advertised at GP surgeries, sexual health or contraceptive clinics, pharmacies, youth groups, local papers, or on the internet.

Find sexual health services, including contraceptive clinics, near you.

Should I tell anyone I think I’m gay, lesbian or bisexual?

This is up to you. Being gay, lesbian or bisexual is normal, but some people do not understand this. Telling people you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual is known as coming out.

When you first come out, the most sensible option is to tell someone you trust, and who will be supportive and understanding.

If you’re not sure how you feel about your sexuality, there’s no hurry to make your mind up or tell people.

Coming out is an individual decision, and it’s important to do it in your own way and in your own time.

You can find out more at Stonewall: coming out as a young person.

What about sex if I’m gay, lesbian or bisexual?

We all have the same feelings and anxieties about sex. Deciding when you’re ready to have sex is a big step, whatever your sexuality and whoever your potential partner might be.

Everyone is ready at different times, but do not have sex just because your mates or your boyfriend or girlfriend are pressuring you. Remember, it’s always OK to say no.

You can also read Are you ready for sex? to find out the things to ask yourself if you’re thinking about having sex.

If you think the time is right, talk to your partner about needing to use contraception, having safer sex, picking the right time, and how you would both like the experience to be.

How to cope if you’re bullied for being gay

Some people do not understand that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is normal. Nobody has the right to tell someone else how to live their life or pick on them because of who they’re attracted to.

If someone bullies you because you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, it’s their problem, not yours, and they should not get away with it. This is called homophobic bullying.

Bullying can take many forms, including stares, looks, whispers, threats and violence. If you’re being bullied because you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, tell someone you trust. This could be a teacher, friend, your parents, or a helpline.

Schools have a legal duty to ensure homophobic bullying is dealt with. Find out more from the Anti-Bullying Alliance on where to find help if you’ve been bullied for advice.

You’ll find information about talking to teachers and parents, and the contact details of anti-bullying organisations and helplines. Talking to someone who is understanding will always help if you have worries or questions as you’ll feel supported and more confident.

You can find out more about dealing with homophobic bullying on these websites: 

This is a charity for young people and adults affected by homophobia. It has a helpline for young people, parents or teachers who want to report homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying. Call the EACH actionline on 0808 1000 143 on weekdays, 9am to 4.30pm. Calls are free from landlines and most mobiles. 

Stonewall is a charity that campaigns for equal rights for lesbians, gay men, bisexual and trans people. Its Education for All campaign tackles homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools across the UK. You can find case studies, facts and figures about bullying in schools, and advice for young people and teachers on the charity’s website.

The LGBT+ anti-violence charity can help if you experience homophobia, transphobia or biphobia wherever it occurs. Call their national helpline on 0800 999 5428 or contact them online.

The charity offers a safe and confidential place for you to talk about anything. No problem is too big or too small. Call one of their counsellors free on 0800 1111, chat to them online or send an email.

Page last reviewed: 2 August 2018 Next review due: 2 August 2021

2. Actually go on IRL or URL dates with folks of a variety of genders

Experience isn’t a prerequisite to bisexuality, says Noel. “You absolutely do not need to go on dates with or have sex with two or more genders to know that you’re bisexual,” she says.

That said, actually going on dates can be helpful for someone who’s questioning whether they’re bisexual.

After all, it’s very possible that you’re aesthetically drawn to a particular gender on a dating app but not actually interested in ever dating or getting down with them. A series of dates may reveal just that.

4. Connect with the LGBTQ+ community, especially those who are “B”

“For some, connecting to the bisexual community plays a huge role in feeling comfortable identifying as bisexual,” says Noel.

That’s why she recommends following, engaging with, and having conversations with bi folks.

Avoidance

It is not being able to listen to or see anything that might make you think about being gay.

This could be certain songs or artists that you associate with being gay, types of TV programs, magazines or books, that you might associate more with same-sex couples.

You might avoid going out or mixing with a same-sex couple or showing support for same-sex couples. There are many things that you may avoid, fearing that they could ‘trigger’ your HOCD, and I shall give a list below.

Finding members of the same sex attractive

If you notice you find members of your own sex attractive, there are more things than faulty beliefs at play here. You are also more likely to, what I call, spotlight this feeling of attraction. I’ll talk about the spotlight in a second.

If you hold a faulty belief (see above) that finding members of your own sex attractive means that you must be gay, you are a victim of your belief system, as opposed to being gay.

Human beings find many things attractive. Houses, cars, people, gardens, and the list goes on. If you think of the word attractive as meaning ‘pleasing,’ you can find and appreciate many things as pleasing; this also includes appreciating the physical characteristics of the personality of someone who is the same sex as you. This does not mean that you want a physical and romantic relationship with them, but if you have a faulty belief system, it will certainly cause you difficulties.

HOCD in the Spotlight

You might have noticed that in your life before HOCD, you never questioned your sexual preference, took heterosexual relationships for granted, and never really noticed who was gay and who was straight. Now you have a radar, or a spotlight as I like to think of it, where everything you do, and everywhere you go, you seem to notice things that make you question your sexual preference.

A term called selective attention can explain this. There are too many things in life to focus on, so we can filter out the noise and focus on what is essential. Think about driving your car; you filter out the background noise, the scenery and pay attention to the road and the signs that you need to read.

In your life before HOCD, you would have filtered out all the things that are causing you distress now. If you were meeting friends for a coffee, you would have filtered out the people you walked past, how you were walking and focused on getting to the coffee shop and filtered out the background noise to enjoy your friend’s company.

Now you have a spotlight; you can selectively attend to everything you associate with being gay. You might be concerned about people on the street, how you appear to them, are you walking funny, should you have left the manbag at home? It could be challenging to pay attention and just enjoy being with your friends as you might wonder if they think you are gay.

All of this does not mean that you are gay; it means that you are shining a spotlight on things that you associate with being gay, which brings me to an important point; what’s the difference between HOCD and being gay?

Does having HOCD mean you need to ‘come out?

HOCD is not having thoughts about ‘coming out.’ Coming out is where you actively choose to think about your sexuality, knowing you are attracted to members of the same sex and want to think about how to live your life authentically as gay or lesbian. The thoughts that arise in what we call HOCD are symptoms of a mental health condition, OCD.

OCD is characterised by having continual doubt. For example, doubt about cleanliness and germs, doubt about doing something correctly, and in this case, doubt about sexuality. HOCD has nothing to do with sexuality but has to do with the doubt and uncertainty that exist within OCD.

Difference between HOCD and being gay

It’s straightforward, HOCD is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and being gay is enjoying and wanting romantic relationships with members of the same sex.

If you have HOCD, your thoughts processes are concerned about being gay–not your actions. If you are gay, your actions and your thoughts show you are gay; you want, seek out and enjoy romantic relationships with the same sex.

After reading that, you could well be thinking, but how do I know, how can I be sure that I am not gay and don’t know it? This is a symptom of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder–that need for certainty, which I shall talk to you about now.

HOCD and the need to ‘be sure.’

I don’t know how many times I have been asked, “but how do I know for sure that I am not gay?” I’m the psychologist behind MoodSmith; in case you were wondering, and this need for absolutes, reassurance and concrete evidence is a classic symptom of OCD. It’s what feeds the doubt and leads you into the repetitive nature of carrying out compulsions.

In my mind and in all the sessions I have conducted over the years, this need to know for sure is no different than someone needing to know for sure that the surface they have just cleaned is clean; they always have doubt. I am intentionally mentioning more familiar traits of OCD to help you think that what is happening to you is a symptom of HOCD as opposed to a change in your sexual choices.

This ‘needing to know for sure’ is a symptom of OCD, and it is helpful if you can see it as a symptom. For the rest of your life, you do not have this need for absolute certainty. You do not need to know for sure what you are going to do next Tuesday or need to be sure what something you did in the past meant (unless you associate it with HOCD.)

Until you thought you might have HOCD, you would not have needed to know for sure what your sexual preference was. Now, you probably do not need to know for sure what your profession is–you take it for granted.

This ‘need for certainty is a symptom, but one that can cause you many hours of trying to find answers, and unfortunately, it is this ‘need to know and the things you do that help to keep HOCD going.

So what does this all mean?

If some things that I have written here make sense to you, or you recognise yourself in it, it means that

whatever is happening to you is a symptom of HOCD; it does not mean that you are gay.

This doesn’t mean you are homophobic. It is, however, alarming if you suddenly question your sexuality, which you will have been taking as a ‘given’ for all of your life.

What causes Homosexual OCD?

Your brain is latching onto a thought and running wild with it.

The thought is harmless. It does not have to originate from thought; it can come from a feeling. You might have first thought.

Or it can start with sensations such as getting aroused in a situation that you consider to be inappropriate or not like you.

But the thought or original feeling is harmless (and perfectly normal). It is what you do with the thought and/or feeling.

If you just ignored it, you probably wouldn’t be reading this post, as it would have just wandered in and out of your attention like all the other random thoughts.

If, however, it shocked you or alarmed you, as I am assuming it did, your brain will note it. As you are human and have the capacity for rational thought, you will naturally want to think about it, to make sense of it, and this is where you can get into trouble.

Having the capacity for thought is not always a good thing! Reassure yourself that you are not gay and analyse every single male encounter you have had in your life to date.

You are trying to reassure yourself but then find evidence that makes you doubt yourself.

It is here you get into dangerous territory. You put it to the test.

Before you know it, you are watching porn, and not like before, just for the sake of it, but as some sort of experiment to make sure you are not gay.

But it is not like before. In the past, you would have been relaxed, maybe having a few beers. The perfect environment for everything to be in working order.

This time, the porn is an experiment, and you are probably stressed to the high heavens, and when you don’t get an erection, you take that as evidence you must be gay.

Let me tell you, if you are stressed, nothing down there works very well!

It is only a matter of time before these thoughts are ruining your life.

You can’t even walk down the street without thinking you are checking out guys or looking at them differently.

Maybe you are giving off some sort of gay vibe and never knew it!

If any of this is familiar to you, it screams of intrusive thoughts. You will not be gay. You are just afraid you might be and are reacting to the thought as if it is reality.

If you were gay, it wouldn’t be causing you a thought.

Doubt and the denial question

Forget the denial question for a minute. A nagging doubt characterises HOCD. The doubt arises because;

the thoughts in your head are so foreign to who you are as a person, and

because you attach some significance to the thoughts, you believe that they must mean something.

Being human, you have the capacity for thought; it’s both a gift and a curse. Without having a good understanding of how your brain works, you might not fully understand what is happening and therefore find it hard to dismiss thoughts relating to HOCD.

Your brain is wired to keep you out of harm’s way, so it shall pay more attention to the bad things than the pleasant experiences in your life–your brain does not need to protect you from good things.

Now here’s the thing. Your brain does not differentiate between ‘bad things’–threats. A threat could be real, such as approaching a poisonous snake or threats that are specific to you–things that disturb you.

If you are anxious about the thoughts in your head relating to HOCD, your brain may pick up on this and, loosely, mark them as a threat. Once that happens, your mind pays more attention to them, sort of seeking them out to draw your attention to them.

Now that they are in your head more often, you can use your ability to think and try to analyse what is happening to you. You can question your sexuality, looking for evidence both in your life at the moment, and going into the past to see if you are in denial and didn’t know it.

Initially, I said to forget the denial question at the moment, and I did that for a reason. If you did my job (I’m a psychologist), you would see that this constant analysis and need to know ‘the truth’ occurs in all forms of OCD and Intrusive Thoughts.

This is very important–the content of your thoughts are not important; it is what you do with your thought processes that are important.

For example, it doesn’t matter if someone is seeking the ‘truth’ over

how do I know something is clean and free from germs

Instead, it is about recognising that this is something that happens–a pattern if you like–that occurs not only in HOCD but in all forms of intrusive thoughts. This is where acceptance and commitment therapy can help.

People who are gay know this, beyond any doubt. They do not spend hours analysing “how do I know.” They just know. Just the way I know I am a woman and a psychologist, I don’t have to give it a second thought.

Homosexual OCD and sexual arousal

If you have experienced sexual arousal while thinking about or watching members of the same sex, this is where you can run into difficulty as you see this as evidence that you must be gay.

This is a mistake. Ask yourself where you experience the arousal. Are you watching porn? For example, of course, you will feel arousal; we are sexual beings!

But you could just be looking at a member of the same sex–but how are you looking at them? If I walked past you now in the street, I wouldn’t be thinking, do I feel anything? Am I getting aroused? I would just walk passed you in the street.

But the difference between you and me is that you would be selectively attended to members of the same sex to check how you are doing. Your brain is actively searching them out; they might as well be walking about flying a flag to get your attention, and then you make the mistake of checking out how you feel in your genitals.

Written By Dr Elaine Ryan Last updated on March 21, 2021 Filed Under:

My thoughts mean something about my sexual preference.

This is also a faulty belief system as if you get an HOCD related thought, your belief system will guide you to think that it must mean that you are gay. Random thoughts mean nothing.

I can think I am 21 years old and multi-millionaire, and sadly, it is not valid, as thoughts mean nothing. I shall contradict myself now; thoughts only have the meaning that you give to them, so be careful about any faulty beliefs you may hold.

Obsessions

The word ‘obsession’ comes from the Latin ‘obsidere’, which means ‘to besiege’. Obsessions are the unwanted intrusive thoughts that you get in your head, for example.

When you get these obsessions, i.e. the thoughts about your sexuality that you dislike, like many other people, you probably do some things to help you decide if you are gay or not or to reassure yourself that you are still straight. The things you do are known as compulsions.

Compulsions

I shall divide the compulsions into two groups as it is more helpful.

Covert–things that other people can’t see, for example, what goes on with your thought processes

Overt–something that other people could see you doing, for instance, watching porn to make sure you’re not gay.

Being aware of obsessions and compulsions is how to think about your HOCD. Rather than worrying whether or not you are gay, you can think, “oh, that thought was an overt compulsion.” Doing this can distance you from the thoughts and see them as HOCD symptoms and not proof that you are gay or heterosexual.

The compulsions are the things that you do to make yourself feel better or to try to ‘check out if you are gay or not.

Covert Compulsions

Going over in your mind, previous sexual encounters with members of the opposite sex to reassure yourself that you are not gay.

You might try to imagine being with a member of the same sex to check out your theory that you might be gay.

You might have remembered an event from your childhood that you now see as evidence that you are gay. Children can engage in a type of exploration play; you probably heard it called ‘doctors and nurses.’ If you recall this type of game, you may mentally go over it, matching it up with other pieces of ‘evidence’ to help you make sense of what is happening to you.

Overt Compulsions

Seeking reassurance. This reassurance-seeking could be Googling HOCD Symptoms to get information to show you whether or not you are gay and asking current or previous partners questions to help you decide about your sexuality.

Accepting that you are suffering from obsessions and compulsions as opposed to experiencing a change in your sexual preference is the first step towards recovery, and I shall talk to you about what treatment options are open to you now.