David Le never thought he’d end up researching gay men’s health as a career. “It’s something I fell into,” the 25-year-old says.
After answering a call to participate in Totally Outright, a four-day leadership workshop for young gay men, he soon found himself hired as the youth team leader for the “Investigaytors” at BC’s Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC).
Launched in 2011, Investigaytors is a hands-on training and education program designed to give young gay men knowledge of and skills in researching gay men’s health issues and to help foster the next generation of researchers.
Approximately a dozen young men have enrolled in Investigaytors since its inception.
Before starting his current position, Le studied psychology and critical studies in sexuality at the University of British Columbia.
He explains that while a good researcher doesn’t need to be part of the community being studied, there are some benefits.
“There’s an advantage to actually knowing and having a lived experience as a gay man that helps frame the perspective a bit better,” he says, pointing to nuances of language that might be lost on a researcher who is more rooted in academia.
According to Le, the CBRC’s research plays a critical job in filling gaps around gay men’s health.
“That’s where research really shows its value, when [we’re] able to translate that information that’s been collected back into the community.”