Local producer of big musicians aims to tell stories of bullied teens

PORTLAND, Ore. - If you don't know the names Macklemore and Lewis, all you need to know is they're musicians, and they've been on every Top 40 chart for the past few years.

But one of the producers behind that success is leaving it all behind to be a part of something he finds much more important - to prevent bullying of teens targeted because they are gay.

Producer and photographer Nic Adenau is getting some national attention for his Kickstarter project.

It's going to be a big lifestyle change for him. He spent a year and a half helping produce and create music videos for people like platinum- selling musicians Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

He quit a few months ago, knowing his new life would mean more couch surfing among friends while he traveled around the country documenting the stories of teens who've been bullied.

For an interview Wednesday, Adenau was at a small Southeast Portland coffee shop, one of the many makeshift urban offices he has these days. He's connecting with 20 teens he'll travel across the country to meet, interview and photograph - all lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered who've suffered bullying.

"I think everybody, especially in my generation, everybody can go back to a time where you've been bullied or called gay," he says after taking a sip of coffee. "Once you start to get outside of Portland, it gets a little more conservative and you see a lot more issues."

It was stories like Jadin Bell's, who was the teen from La Grande, who took his own life after years of bullying that pushed Adenau to do the project.

"As progressive as we are in 2013 in America, there are still people - you put yourself out there, you never know what's going to happen. There're stories all the time about people getting harassed."

His goal is to raise $10,000 for travel, camera and other living expenses while he heads to just about every state in the Western part of the U.S. to meet the teens.

His hope is their courage will inspire and possibly save lives.

"Just investing yourself into other people's stories can be rewarding even if they are hard. To know you've experienced that," Adenau says.

To find out more: Kickstarter: 20 stories from LGBT bullied teens