Dr. Nathaniel Frank is an author, historian, strategist, and advocate for LGBTQ equality and public health. Currently the director of the What We Know Project, a research initiative at Cornell University's Center for the Study of Inequality that collects scholarship on public policy for the general public, 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. His second book, Awakening: How Gays and Lesbians Brought Marriage Equality to America (Harvard University Press, 2017), was the first full-scale history of the marriage equality movement in the United States.
A frequent contributor to Slate, Nathaniel has also published in the New York Times, New York Magazine, Washington Post, Rolling Stone, BuzzFeed, The Atlantic, The New Republic, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, his hometown newspaper.
For more than two decades, Nathaniel has been a consulting research and communications strategist for LGBTQ organizations, including the 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. Turning to public health, his 2021 Washington Post cover piece on the mind-body roots of chronic pain went viral.
Nathaniel has been interviewed on numerous television and radio programs, including “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “Rachel Maddow Show,” “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. 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, Nathaniel attended Northwestern University and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in History at Brown University. He lives with his husband and their dog in Brooklyn.