Dr. Nathaniel Frank is an author, historian, commentator, and LGBTQ strategist. Author of Awakening: How Gays and Lesbians Brought Marriage Equality to America (Harvard University Press, April 2017), he is best known for his work helping to end the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy after writing the critically acclaimed Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America, which won the American Library Association’s Stonewall Book Award for non-fiction.
A frequent contributor to Slate, he is currently the director of Columbia Law School's What We Know Project, a research initiative that collects scholarship on LGBTQ public policy. Nathaniel has appeared on “The Daily Show” and numerous other TV and radio programs, and in addition to Slate, his writings have appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, Washington Post, Huffington Post, The New Republic, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer, his hometown newspaper.
Nathaniel is an internationally recognized authority on LGBTQ equality and public policy. For nearly twenty years, he has been a consulting research and communications strategist for LGBT organizations, including the University of California’s Palm Center and the Movement Advancement Project. In 2010, the year “don’t ask, don’t tell” ended, he served as an expert witness in two successful Constitutional challenges to the law in federal courts, and sat down with President Obama in the Roosevelt Room to discuss the policy weeks before it ended.
After “don’t ask, don’t tell” ended, Nathaniel founded the What We Know Project to help ensure that other pressing policy debates would be informed by the best scholarly evidence available.
He has been interviewed on numerous television and radio programs, including “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” “Good Morning America,” the “CBS Evening News,” NPR’s “Fresh Air,” as well as Logo, the BBC, the Associated Press, Al Jazeera, National Review and more. His publications on gays in the military and other topics have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, The New Republic, New York Magazine, Slate, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Newsday, Philadelphia Inquirer, Lingua Franca and others.
Nathaniel has spoken at West Point Military Academy, National Press Club, Center for American Progress, University of Pennsylvania, University of Nebraska, McCormick Freedom Museum, Boston College, the Smithsonian and elsewhere. His research and opinions have been cited on the Congressional floor, in syndicated columns, college syllabi, and throughout the blogosphere.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Dr. Frank attended Northwestern University and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in History at Brown University. He lives with his partner and their dog in Brooklyn.