Interview: Quantitative, Qualitative or Versatile

This is where we drag leaders in gay men's health into our Proust spotlight. Get to know your colleagues as they share their work, their passion and a little of their busy lives.

Interview with Ilan Meyer

Ilan Meyer, PhD, UCLA School of Law

1. What is your place of birth?

I was born in Tel Aviv, Israel

2. How did you get involved in gay men's health?

I have always been interested in mental health.  I was actually planning on being a therapist and was interested in schizophrenia and in alternative (antipsychiatry) psychiatric interventions such as following R.D. Laing, whose books I read in college.  While studying psychology I discovered that I am more attracted to research and eventually moved to a school of public health, with a concentration on social psychology.  I had a pre-doc fellowship in psychiatric epidemiology, which channeled my interested in mental health into the type of disorders typically studied in large epidemiological studies –mood disorders, substance use disorders, etc.  So I moved away from schizophrenia and from being a therapist, but still am interested in mental health.

3. Quantitative, qualitative or versatile?

I would define myself as mostly quantitative but I published a few qualitative papers.  And, to be honest, these are some of my favorite papers (of the ones I worked on).  Overall, we all should be versatile (as far as research methods are concerned!).  Each methods has its strengths and teaches us different things.  

4. What social determinant of health impacts gay men the most, do you think?

I think I must say minority stress…

5. What's something that everyone interested in gay men's health should read?

Wow.  So much to cite…  I’d start with history, John D’Emilio’s Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940-1970 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983)

6. Do you have a favourite gay bar moment?

The National LGBT Bar Association (an affiliate of the American Bar Association).  But if you mean a bar where you can drink, right now I’d say “Dreamgirls Review” at Rage in West Hollywood.

7. If you could poll 10,000 gay men, what two questions would you ask them?

I don’t think I could be satisfied with just 2 questions… :)

8. What is the secret to a perfect relationship?

Accept imperfection.

9. How would you describe your current work?

Studying the impact of social conditions on LGBT people and communities.  I am excited to start a new NIH project called “Generations.”  With wonderful collaborators including Stephen Russell, Marguerita Lightfoot, Phillip Hammack, David Frost, and Bianca Wilson we are beginning to explore identity, stress, health outcomes, and health care and services utilization among LGBs in 3 generations of adults who came of age at different historical contexts in the United States.

10. What's the last piece of writing you did on gay health?

An article on the role of help-seeking in preventing suicide attempts among lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. (Ilan Meyer, Merilee Teylan, Sharon Schwartz) published in The Journal of Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior.

11. What gay man do you most admire?

Again, so many to choose from.  I have to go with Magnus Hirschfeld, who, I discovered, is a family relation.

12. Where would you like to see gay men's health in five years?

What we’ve wanted for a long time – an HIV vaccine. 

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