Photography by Jeff Code
Yasir Bashir wants to thank everyone who voted for him. Really. Being selected as a Coverboy of the Year finalist has earned him all the usual ephemeral honors. Gifts. Public attention. Dates. Ego boost. More gifts. More attention.
But that’s not even the half of it for Yasir. Already out to his four siblings, and a firm believer in being honest and true to one’s self, he plans to use this week’s issue as his ticket to come out to his parents.
“It would be great to just present a copy to my mom and dad and say, ‘Hey, you should be proud of me,'” he says. Yasir is the baby of the family, younger even than his twin sister by five minutes. As immigrants who found success on their own terms, his parents have high expectations for their children to excel.
“I’m not sure how they’ll respond” to the news, he says. “I mean, they’ll accept me. If they can’t approve it…they’ll have to accept me.”
Besides parental pressure, Yasir has high expectations all his own. He’s got the intensity, the passion, the drive of the most ambitious 22-year-old. He fidgets restlessly while perched on a kitchen stool for an interview, like an idling Lamborghini Diablo caught in rush-hour traffic on the Rockville Pike. Like that exotic car he aspires to someday drive, he’s uncomfortable as the center of attention. But he does admit that he’s a little shy, and wasn’t sure if he wanted fifteen minutes of fame as a coverboy.
One gets the sense that Yasir hates to sit still. He sleeps just five hours each weeknight: “I could do something else instead of wasting my time sleeping.” He works a full-time job in advertising sales for a publications company, and part-time as a student at the University of Maryland. He volunteers at a local elementary school, spends two hours six days a week lifting weights at the gym and loves to travel, but he’s “been too busy” in the last year to go anywhere.
Oh, and he loves “street racing” in his muscle car, a 1997 cobalt blue Pontiac Trans-Am with a 5.7-Liter V-8 engine. “I love the adrenaline rush,” he says.
He’s so consumed with life on the accelerator that Yasir says he sets daily goals to make sure he doesn’t neglect the slower but equally important things in life, such as being punctual and being a good person.
He’s passionate about nearly everything, reflected in the intense, searing way he holds eye contact during even casual conversation. Politics may be the lone exception — he follows it only casually. That’s true even though he credits former Vice President and Presidential candidate Al Gore for inspiring him to be his own man. “Over time he’s been growing,” Yasir says, citing Gore’s early, later reversed stances against abortion and homosexuality. Gore also recited a famous quote that has had real resonance to Yasir: “I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not.”
Gore was one celebrity Yasir said he would invite to a special dinner — serving “orange duck, catered in” — when he was a coverboy last July. He’s had several strangers approach him about that. He’s also had one stranger ask him about another of his invited dinner guests, Maya Angelou, the noted African-American author and poet who was a key figure in the first Clinton Inaugural. (Yasir relates the stranger’s question by shifting his smoky baritone voice into an annoying, nasal whine: “Who’s Maya Angelou?”)
“Besides being a strong female role model,” Yasir says, “[I admire Angelou] because her writings are about courage, perseverance, self-acceptance and realization of one’s potential. To a certain extent I can relate to that, because my life has been about self-acceptance, coming from a family that doesn’t believe homosexuality is normal.”
Yasir is currently re-reading Angelou’s classic autobiographical tale, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. He’s no longer a caged bird himself, having recently moved out of his parent’s house in Potomac, where he grew up. He now has his own apartment in Rockville, and has started to pay his own way through school. “It’s been a good year,” he says. “I’ve grown a lot, mentally.” So much so that he’s ready to take that next step toward full honesty with his parents.
“I’ve got to make myself happy first,” he reasons. “If I can’t make myself happy, then I can’t make anybody happy.”
Second Runner-Up Prize Package
18th & U Duplex Diner – Dinner for two (see ad on page 37)
ATLAS/Lizard Lounge — Lizard Lounge $50 Bar Hospitality Voucher and a selection of Mixed CDs by Lizard Lounge Resident DJ Kostas
Cobalt — $25 Bar Tab
DC Eagle — $25 Bar Tab
Empire Video — Ten Free Rentals
Freddie’s Beach Bar — Freddie’s T-shirt
Food Bar DC — $100 Gift Certificate
JR.’s – $25 Bar Tab
Leather Rack – $25 Gift Certificate
Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend 2004 – Two tickets to Reaction Dance (Sunday, Jan. 18, 2004)
One-in-Ten – Reel Affirmations T-shirt & Cap
Washington Plaza Hotel – $25 Food & Beverage Credit
Please note: Some restrictions apply on select prizes.