Embracing diversity

By Cameron McCullough Photos Yanni

A search to define ‘what a family is’ has thrust a peninsula family into the national spotlight when they were selected for a McCain Foods advertising campaign.

The new campaign focuses on various families across the country to shine the light on diversity, and to point out that families can come in many different forms.

When it comes to diversity, Sean Badley and Chris Laxton tick many of the boxes. A same sex couple, they are also mixed nationality, mixed race, a family of colour, and have three adopted siblings.

“McCain Foods put out a call for families of diverse backgrounds, and we applied,” said Sean.

“We have always been quite private people, but we wanted to see ourselves reflected in the world”.

The couple have been together for 18 years. They originally met in the United Kingdom, and have lived there, Canada and Australia.

They became a forever family when the children were 3, 1 and 6 months old.

The kids are now eight, six and five, and Sean and Chris have chosen the Mornington Peninsula to settle.

“Chris grew up on the Mornington Peninsula, so it seemed like a good choice,” said Sean.

“It has a great lifestyle and is also close to Chris’ parents who help out with the kids”.

Sean, who is a diversity educator, points out that while appearing different from the outside, their family is just like any other.

“Everybody is going through the same things as parents. We all have the same hopes and fears. We are all working to generate the best outcome for our kids in the long term.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a grandparent, a birth parent, or an adoptive parent; our aspirations remain the same.”

Sean and Chris don’t believe their kids will face bullying as a result of having two dads.

“Any parent considers issues their kids might have, but having two dads isn’t one we are worried about,” said Sean

“People these days understand that the world is different. It is not like it was fifty years ago. Diversity tends to be celebrated in the community,” said Sean.

“Our concerns are everyday ones, and don’t revolve around us being a same sex couple. Do our kids have a solid peer group at school? Are they part of a cohort?”

Another reason for doing the McCain Foods campaign was for Sean and Chris to show solidarity with the gay and lesbian community.

“Not only is the LGBTI community under-represented in the community, but they can feel ostracised” said Sean.

“We are very mindful that rates of suicide among LGBTI are the highest in the country, and we want to do our best to show our support for that segment of the community”.

Sean and Chris see the advertising campaign as an opportunity for them to be properly reflected in society.

“If other people see the ad, and can see themselves normalised, then that is a great thing,” said Sean

“We hope that the ads create a sense of belonging for families that don’t fit the traditional mould. Having a sense of belonging from that point of view is a wonderful thing.”

Chris has written a book called ‘Same but different too’ that explores different types of families and provides the reader with some examples of how families can be different, while also having things in common.

“We celebrate difference,” said Sean

“I think when you are young, you feel the need to fit in, but as you get older, celebrating your difference becomes more important to you. Embracing that difference is what we want to show.”

And the new-found fame from appearing in a national advertising campaign?

“Yes, we have been recognised on the street,” said Sean.

“We have had lots of feedback. Most of it very positive. We were not out to do this to become famous though. That was never the aim.”

The advertising campaign was launched by McCain Foods after their surveys showed that 84 percent of Australians believed that brands need to do more to better represent modern, real-life families in advertising.

The ads feature real Australian families celebrating moments of togetherness at mealtimes.

“Meals are a great chance to get together and catch up with the kids. It is a time of no TV, but to be together and discuss the day,” said Sean.

“Family can mean many things to different people. You can have a chosen family, a family of friends, or a family you are born into. Family means a place where you feel secure, and around people that love you and care for you.”

“At the end of the day, it’s love that creates a family,” said Chris.

It’s as simple as that.

Find out more about Sean’s team and diversity training: www.weareuniquelyhuman.com

Peninsula Essence – October 2019