WEST HOLLYWOOD—Within the past weeks the nation has been gripped by the deaths of several teenagers, who reported being bullied. Indiana’s Billy Lucas, 15, hanged himself in a barn. Texan, Asher Brown, 13, shot himself in the head. Californian Seth Walsh hanged himself from a tree in his backyard. New Jersey’s Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge after his roommate took a video of him in a homosexual encounter and released it online. Rhode Island’s Raymond Chase hanged himself in his dorm room. Cody Barker killed himself in Wisconisn, and another Wisconsin teen attempted suicide . Thom Bierdz, the local artist who also stars as Phillip Chancellor, III on CBS’s number-one daytime drama “The Young and the Restless” is a native of Wisconsin and so is his character, since “Y&R” is set in Genoa City, Wisconsin. Thom felt compelled to make a YouTube video to offer his support for young people who are in school and being bullied, especially those who are gay.

Thom is the first openly gay actor to appear in a soap role also as a gay character in television history. He’s also a best-selling author. His autobiography “Forgiving Troy” has received many awards, and Thom’s very honest story about forgiving his paranoid schizophrenic brother who murdered their mother has received support from his “Y&R” co-stars as well. Lauralee Bell tells Canyon News, “Thom is one of the most wonderful people I have ever known. I am very grateful to be his friend. Despite all the tragedies he’s endured, he still remains a positive role model in this industry and in the world.”

“After being deeply saddened by the teen gay suicide epidemic in America, I asked the American Art Awards to give teenagers an opportunity to express their feelings through drawing and painting in a special category. This is a platform for them to be seen and heard,” said Bierdz. “There is no charge for this special category, and anyone under the age of 20 is allowed to enter. Galleries will decide 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, 4th place, 5th place, and finalist.”

Winners will receive complimentary ribbons and certificates. It is Thom’s hope that a publisher will compile an emotional book from your submitted images, and that the proceeds of that book go to the Trevor Project, which is an organization that provides a 24-hour gay suicide prevention hotline. “Tommy, it’s heartbreaking to see this occur in our great nation. I reach out to young people who are struggling and tell them, that this lonely and isolated feeling does not continue. However, if you are suicidal, seek help by calling the Trevor Project hotline at 866-488-7386,” said Thom Bierdz.

To enter this contest, email JPEGS of your drawing or painting to
AMERARTAWARDS@AOL.COM. Include the name of the art piece and size, and your name and age. The deadline is on December 31, 2010. Winners will be announced in January 2011 after the galleries have had the opportunity to look at your images.

Bierdz concluded, “You are important and I thank you for giving people a visual of what it is like to be a gay teenager in today’s world.” Thom’s incredible artwork is at THOMBIERDZ.COM.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK3bxMh29 Cg&feature=player_embedded