Back in the good old days, Donny Osmond was definitely a favorite of mine. One of my most liked songs of his from the early 70’s was “Sweet and Innocent.” This was also a time where the words of a song really had meaning, and it was always a pleasure to hear Donny.
It’s hard to find any teenage girl from that era that didn’t have a crush on the handsome and talented singer – a lot of my friends got his records and had their walls papered with pictures of young Donny.
Today, he still sounds good and he still looks as awesome as ever.
But Donny Osmond isn’t only a well-known and praised singer – he’s also one of the most famous Mormons in the entertainment industry.
His religious views and statements have attracted a great deal of attention over the years – and there have not always been positive tones surrounding his opinions. For example, Donny Osmond’s controversial confession about gay marriage has stirred up emotions.
Many of his fans thought his view were outdated and Donny received a lot of criticism for his way of talking about same-sex marriage.
And when Donny Osmond revealed what he regrets most in life, many raised their eyebrows again…
Donny Osmond was born in 1957 in Ogden, Utah, as the seventh son in a family of eight. Along with all his siblings, he was raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is informally known as the Mormon Church.
Donny Osmond brothers
George Osmond was the leader of the family and the patriarch who would have a big influence on the young Donny. It was, for example, George who took the initiative to form a music group within the family.
Four of Donny’s older brothers – Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay – formed a quartet called The Osmonds. When Donny joined the group, the group came to be known as the Osmond Brothers. Already as a 5-year-old, Donny began to perform on stage with his brothers. The little boy was so cute and had such charisma that he became the band’s frontman.
“I went from an innocent child to a national television star,” Donny told Daily Mail in 2007.
Donny became a huge teen idol who toured all over the world with his brothers. He lived a rock ‘n roll life – apart from all the decadence we usually associate with rock stars. Since Donny was a Mormon, the young boy insisted on not having sex before marriage – drinking alcohol or doing drugs was totally forbidden.
According to some sources, Donny didn’t even swear.
Unfortunately, the hectic tour life became too much for the young boy. He became homesick after a while and wished he had stayed at home in Utah.
“I was nine years old and on a six-week tour of Sweden with my father, playing three shows a day. I was so homesick. I wrote a letter to my mother, begging her to come and get me,” Donny said.
Donny started to hate the fame but his dad constantly pushed him to continue performing in front of packed stands. And his dad didn’t like that Donny wanted to get married at the age of 20.
He believed that the marriage would ruin his son’s career.
But Donny had found the love of his life in Debbie Glenn, also a Mormon.
“She was the hot babe cheerleader in town and she dated my brother Jay [Osmond] before she dated me,” the star once confessed while describing their relationship in a Facebook post from May 2016.
“It took me 3 whole years to win her heart and convince her to marry me.”
The couple tied the knot in 1978, at the Salt Lake Temple in Utah.
“When I told my dad, he said, ‘Well, there goes your career, but this is ushering in your personal life,’” Donny told The Guardian in 2017.
Together, Donny and Debbie had five sons: Joshua, Jeremy, Donald, Christopher, and Brandon.
All were raised to be Mormons – just like mom and dad.
“The LDS religion believes in a strong family – a strong unit – and teaching and raising your children properly.” Donny said that the church had a “program that really solidifies the family together and that is ‘family night,’” Donny and Debbie told the Los Angeles Times in 1989.
Over the years, Donny has repeatedly emphasized the importance of Mormonism as he and Debbie raised their boys.
Question his values
“Mormonism plays a vital role in raising our children because we teach them the love of God and the reason we’re here on this earth: to perfect our lives and hopefully someday, we believe, to return to our heavenly Father. I think that what’s nice about that is that it really puts life itself into a good perspective. You understand what you’re really here for and what your goals are,” Donny explained.
It’s obvious that Donny really thinks his religion has enriched his life. But there are also events that have made people question his values.
In 1978, Donny and his sister, Marie, were interviewed by television journalist Barbara Walters. Walters, who paved the way for women in broadcasting, had several critical questions about Mormonism for the siblings.
For those who remember, there was a rather tense atmosphere in the studio when Walters wanted answers.
“I have to ask you something that I know you have heard about, and if I do not ask it people will wonder why I did not. And that is, in the strength of your religion, the whole business about blacks not being allowed to be priests… Tell me how you feel about it and what the explanation of that is,” asked Walters.
Donny’s response caused many to react.
“Well, I’m not an authority on the subject,” he said.
“But I will mention that we are not prejudiced people. We offer more, I think, than any other religion to the black person.”
He also said, “[Black people are] not allowed to hold priesthood right now, and I do not know why, but that’s the way the Lord wants it.”
Donny’s sister made a rather startling statement when Walters asked her about the woman’s secondary position in the Mormon Church.
“Secondary, no. But you have to remember that you need a patriarch at the head of the home, and this is the way that I feel. You need someone to run the home. The woman is equally as important but as far as speaking her mind, that should be the man’s job,” Marie Osmond said.
Of course, you have to understand that Marie made her statement in 1978 – a lot has happened since then. The Mormon religion has changed its view on race and sex, even though the church still receives harsh criticism for being ignorant.
Its view on homosexuality is far from modern – the Mormon church only accepts gay, lesbian, and bisexual members as long as they live in celibacy. Their leaders teach that homosexual behavior have always been a grievous sin and the Mormon Church is officially against same-sex marriages.
With this in mind, things got quite complicated when Donny’s sister, Marie Osmond, learned her own daughter was gay, in 2009.
Many in the Osmond family certainly had an opinion on this – but Marie Osmond stood up for her daughter and stated that she loved her daughter Jessica – no matter what.
“The God that I believe in is a god of love, not fear. I believe in [my daughter’s] civil rights, as a mother… I don’t think God made one color flower; I think he made many,” Marie explained in 2013.
Jessica actually got married last year after same-sex marriage was legalized throughout the United States.
Her mother congratulated her daughter on her big day.
“Congratulations to my darling daughter Jessica and her new wife Sara!” she wrote on Twitter.
Donny Osmond’s views on homosexuality
But what is Donny Osmond’s view on gay marriage and homosexuality?
Well, he didn’t congratulate his niece on Twitter when she got married. It’s also unclear if he attended the wedding.
But some other actions suggest that Donny is definitely not homophobic. When Donny won “Dancing with the Stars” in 2009, there was an incident that caused many viewers’ jaws to drop. After one of his dance numbers, Donny “toyed” with the openly gay judge Bruno Tonioli and kissed him in a daring move.
Given his background, Donny probably realized that it was a rather controversial move.
“I do not think they’re going to let me back in Utah any more,” he joked afterwards.
If you want to dig deeper into what Donny Osmond actually thinks about same-sex marriage, we can look at one of his statements from 2006. He then got a question from a fan of his – at the same time as the battle for equal marriage raged in the United States.
Beliefs about marriage
“I do support our church leaders who say that we can accept those with gay tendencies in our church as long as they do not act upon their temptations,” Donny said then and continued:
“My beliefs about marriage [are] beautifully stated in The Family – A Proclamation To The World, a document published by the leaders of our church back in 1995. I am going to include it here.”
In that specific document, the Mormon Church defined their official position on family, marriage, gender roles, and human sexuality.
“Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and… the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children,” the church stated.
At the same time, Donny has also talked very personally about about his views on homosexuality and that gives us a clue to what he actually thinks:
“There are many gay individuals that are members of our church. I know many of them. In fact, some of my best friends are gay… Everyone has tendencies to succumb to temptation, but we all have the same standard given to us by our Father in Heaven,” he said.
“Whether we may be tempted to be immoral with members of our own sex or of the opposite sex, we are expected to live chaste lives. This is very well explained not only in the Book of Mormon, but in the Bible as well.”
He finished his reasoning by saying:
“I am not a judge, and I will never judge anyone for the decisions they make unless they are causing harm to another individual. I love my friends, including my gay friends. We are all God’s children. It is their choice, not mine, on how they conduct their lives and choose to live the commandments according to the dictates of their own conscience.”
To sum it all up, Donny is against same-sex marriage, but he does not condemn homosexuality. He thinks that members of the LGBTQ+ community should be accepted in the Church if they choose to live in celibacy.
His religious views and Mormonism also lead us to one of the things that Donny regrets most in his life. During a Q&A session with his fans in 2015, Donny was asked about the missionary work that plays such a big part in the life of a Mormon.
One fan asked Donny:
“I am a member of the church and still have a few years before I can go [on a mission]. I’m not sure if the Lord feels that I need to go. But then again, I feel as though I need to devote my time to academics. But how do I choose between what I feel I need to do? And what Heavenly Father wants me to do?”
“Four of my sons have gone on missions, and the fifth is planning to go. As I see the wonderful growth in each of them, I feel a twinge of regret that I did not go on a full-time mission.”
The reason Donny didn’t go on a mission was that he was totally focused on his successful career as an artist. In the 1970s, “Osmondmania” took the United States by storm and Donny was the teen idol who topped all the charts. It was hardly a secret which religion Donny belonged to – so in that way he missioned for millions of people.
“At that time, some church leaders encouraged my brothers and me to continue to perform because we were getting a lot of attention as ‘Mormons,’ and yes, it did bring a lot of attention to the Church and may have even caused some to investigate our faith, but I still missed the personal experience of serving,” Donny explained.
Today, the 62-year-old lives a fairly quiet family life – he and Debbie have 10 grandchildren. He has also toured with his sister Marie. The duo had an 11-year Las Vegas residency at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (2008-2019) which was appreciated by many of his fans.
Regardless of Donny’s views and statements, one must still respect his opinion – these are difficult questions and topics for someone who grew up with religion so close to him.
I still think Donny seems to be a good guy who has given many people a lot of joy over the years, through his music and songs. I hope he and his wife Debbie will have many happy years ahead of them, together with all their kids and grandkids. Thanks for all the memories Donny!
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