Openly gay actor Thom Bierdz is reaching out to troubled gay teens through art.

Bierdz plays Phillip Chancellor III, a closeted gay man who faked his own death to live his life openly elsewhere, on CBS' long-running daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless. The character returned in August after coming out gay to his son, Phillip Chancellor IV, last summer.

The 48-year-old actor told On Top Magazine that he was motivated to act after hearing that a gay teen from his home state of Wisconsin was bullied into committing suicide and a second boy attempted to take his own life.

“I recognize that I have an opportunity as an out gay actor to speak up and utilize my celebrity to bring attention to this painful issue,” Bierdz said. “Bullying of any kind is harmful, and especially if you are a gay teen already feeling like you don't fit in.”

Working with the American Art Awards, Bierdz has created a new category called Teen Gay Suicide. At the group's website, youths up to 20 years of age can submit drawings and paintings at no charge. Proceeds from an upcoming book featuring the art will benefit The Trevor Project, a national group centered on crisis and suicide prevention efforts for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning teens.

“I'm well familiar with the kind of prejudice and anxiety and loneliness that comes from being a gay teen. I was one. I know the pain of what it's like to experience suicide in my own family,” Bierdz said, referring to his brother.

Bierdz said he hopes the project will give teens an “opportunity to express their feelings through art.”

“It helps by giving them a voice and visibility through powerful artistic expression,” he added.

(Check out the video embedded in the right panel of this page from Bierdz on the project.)