The term "homophobia" is a misnomer because while some homophobes are actually true phobics, most suffer from a nonphobic disorder, such as paranoia. As Terry S. Stein ( 1996) says, homophobia serves different psychological "evaluative, expressive, and defensive" functions (p. 39). For example, homophobia is phobic when homophobes view gays and lesbians as "bad luck" and avoid them "like the plague." But it is paranoid when homophobes view gays and lesbians as persecutors out to destroy their lives and the lives of their families. And it is obsessive-compulsive when homophobes primarily feel disgust with the dirty things (as they see it) that gays and lesbians do to each other sexually.
In my opinion most serious homophobes are paranoid -- that is, they suffer from (1) paranoid schizophrenia, (2) delusional disorder, paranoid type, or (3) paranoid personality disorder. The more severely ill paranoids, those with paranoid schizophrenia or a paranoid delusional disorder, develop actual delusions and/or hallucinations about gays and lesbians. These may have an overt homosexual content, as in some of the delusions/hallucinations described below. Or, as happens with closet homophobes, the homosexual content may be hidden, sometimes to the point that it can only be inferred. For example, some closet homophobic men seem to be straight bashing. But what they are doing is straight bashing their wives after projecting their homosexual wishes and fears onto them until they develop Othello-like pathologically jealous fears that their wives are cheating on them. Or some closet homophobes, men and women alike, become litigious paranoids. First they become convinced that the world has condemned them as guilty for being homosexual. Then, displacing this guilt, they become litigious about some derivative matter as a way to prove to the world their "innocence" about being homosexual by taking the derivative matter "all the way up