From the article
My partner, Michael, and I had lived in Utah only a few weeks when Ezekiel paid us his first visit. Close to 90 and crippled by arthritis, Ezekiel was our neighbor. It took him half an hour to walk the stretch of lawn between our houses. When he got to the concrete steps of our porch, he would fall to his knees, then climb the stairs to ring the bell. Upon learning we were nonbelievers, he arrived monthly, often bearing produce from his garden along with his testimony.
We tolerated his visits because we didn’t want to offend, but his persistence became annoying. “If you read the Book of Mormon with an open heart,” he would say, “then you will know it is true.” He described how often he prayed for us and the temple work his wife was doing in our name. Pamphlets were wedged in our door, paperback copies of Mormon literature left on our steps. Michael and I found ourselves hiding in our own house, asking, “Do you think he’s still there?” I threw the zucchini away, along with the books. I felt that accepting anything from him meant accepting all of it.
One day, perhaps not long after a student called me a “feminazi” on my teaching evaluations, I watched Ezekiel from the window as he walked toward our house. Instead of hiding, I opened the door before he could even ring, just as he picked up his body from the ground. “Come in,” I said. I helped him up the stairs. I could feel the thin bones in his arms, the push of his ribs. At any other moment, such fragility in a human being would have cast me back on my own mortality. Now his efforts just incensed me.
He collapsed into the couch, back rounded, breath coming quickly. I offered him water, the only beverage in the house I knew he was allowed to drink.
“Have you read the books I have given you?” he asked, taking the glass from me. His hand shook, water sloshing at the rim. “Have you prayed on them?”
Standing in front of his broken form, my urge was to throw my clothes off and stand naked in front of him. I wanted to be seen not as someone to convert but as someone who could refuse his version of salvation and still not be lost. While he continued to talk about Scripture, I imagined him shielding his gaze from my breasts.
Instead, clothed and standing, I screamed, “We don’t want to become Mormon!” He flinched, drew his hand to his chest, and was silent.