It is well documented in biomedical literature that impotence is a common complication of diabetes. What has received much less attention is how diabetes challenges male gender identity and how the illness interferes in intimate matters. Drawing on empirical findings from an anthropological fieldwork conducted among men and women who are living with type 2 diabetes in conditions of urban poverty in Northeast Brazil, this article examines how the men’s illness experiences are interwoven with the changes they concomitantly experienced in their sexuality. By examining the disruptiveness of diabetes in the social and gendered lives of men, it is explored how diabetes challenges both the domestic and public positions of men and how they in an attempt to avoid this try to resist being ill, which leads to contradictions in their diabetes self-care with dire consequences.
gender identity, diabetes, impotence, sexuality, conjugal relations, poverty, Brazil