BENDIGO residents, businesses, and groups are being recognised for their contributions to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex communities.
GLOBE - a Victorian organisation striving to nurture and empower people in the LGBTIQ+ community - released a list of finalists for their 2021 awards.
Bendigo's Piano Bar has been recognised in the category of Excellence in LGBTIQ Small Business and Enterprise.
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Zara Jones, a proud transgender woman living in Bendigo, is also a finalist in the LGBTIQ Rural and Regional Champion Award.
Ms Jones is the founder and director of Trans and Gender Diverse Bendigo and Beyond - a social and support group for trans people living in the region.
That group has also been shortlisted in the GLOBE Awards' Transgender Inclusion category.
Ms Jones also instigated the Trans and Gender Diverse Clothing Swap, which provides a safe place for those exploring their gender to update their wardrobe and find their new look.
She said it was an honour to be recognised as a finalist.
"I went to the awards in 2019," Ms Jones said. "I was just out at that point and I was very overwhelmed with it all. The space was amazing and I was in awe, but I also felt very small.
"Now two years on, I'm invited back as a finalist. I'm going back to that room. It's absolutely amazing."
Ms Jones said her biggest focus was about being visible as a trans woman.
"I have been actively working with groups, individuals, and organisations in raising awareness and sharing my story," she said.
"It's about connecting trans people but also allies with the community because finding a place of belonging is so valuable.
"So much of the broader community still makes us feel erased and different so to have a space where we feel safe is really valuable."
Maree Dixon, a secretary of the Bendigo Queer Arts Festival and LGBTIQA+ Diversity worker at headspace Bendigo, has also been recognised in the GLOBE Awards.
She has been listed as a finalist in the Ally of the Year category.
"I originally became involved in the community because of my daughter," Mrs Dixon said. "I wanted to learn and gain as much knowledge as I could so I could understand.
"The people in the community are just wonderful. I look at them as my family."
Mrs Dixon said being a good ally was about listening without judgement, and speaking out without speaking over others.
She said she wanted to thank the Bendigo Queer Arts Festival for nominating her.
"I also want to thank headspace Bendigo for giving me the opportunity to work with the young people and their families," Mrs Dixon said.
"I want to thank my husband who is such a big supporter and my daughter who inspires me every day."
The winners of the GLOBE Awards will be announced at a ceremony in February next year.
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