The man behind the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax -- a deeply religious Christian -- told Dr. Phil he believes he suffers from homosexuality ... and desperately needs to "recover" from it.
During his interview, Dr. Phil asked Ronaiah Tuiasosopo straight ... "Are you gay?"
Ronaiah replied, "If you look at this situation and everything that I've been through, I would say yeah I'm gay. But honestly I'm so confused."
Ronaiah -- who admitted he had deeply romantic feelings for Manti -- added, "It takes a lot of courage to recover from homosexuality and this type of thing and coming back to your real life. As hard of a task it is, I'm going to do all I can to live right."
Dr. Phil was blown away by Ronaiah's response, saying, "This is for another time, but I have so much to say to you about what you just said, because a lot of it bothers me so much." He added, "But we will talk about that another time."