Designer Gives A Shirt About Detroit

Artist On Bringing Queer Community Together

By Emell Derra Adolphus

There is an art to delivering Christopher Gorski's signature phrase, "Bitch, please. I'm from Detroit." You've got to wait for the perfect moment, he explains.

"I would travel to different places around the country, including L.A., New York, Miami... you know, big cities. And I would always want to go to the gay bars when I had some free time," says Gorski, 44, a former advertising executive for 15 years. "So I would say, 'Hey, how do I get to this location?' And of course they put the gay bars in the worst (neighborhoods) every time. So they would always be like, 'Oh my god, be careful if you go there.' And I would be like, 'Bitch, please. I'm from Detroit."

Gorski has since turned the phrase into T-shirt gold with his Motor City-centric clothing line DetroitGT, which he sells out of a car at Pride events.

"I've loved cars all my life," he says. "As a kid, my dad and I would always go to used parking lots and look for Corvettes. My T-shirts are about Detroit, so you might as well sell T-shirts out of old cars."

Full of witty remarks, such as "I Have People in Detroit" and "Detroit: One City Under the Hood," his brand is steadily tailoring a following that resonates with the growing spirit of resilience among metro Detroiters. "We are from Detroit; we can handle ourselves," says Gorski, who grew up in Dearborn Heights. For him, it's all about taking Emily Gail's famous "say nice things about Detroit" saying a step further.

"We always do things that are positive. We never show anything with guns or about violence. We never mention crime or anything. It's always positive, similar to what Emily kept going."

Gorski, who lives in Ferndale with his partner, says a natural next step in his DetroitGT line was to create T-shirts that would resonate with the LGBT community. He then developed the "Gay for Detroit" line. That inspiration led him to expand his empire to underwear.

"I started with a little heart on the boxer briefs," Gorski says, before realizing boxer briefs don't do so much for the gays. "All my gay friends would always ask if I had briefs. (They would say), 'I don't wear boxer briefs. I want sexy underwear.' So I started looking into it."

DetroitGT's underwear selection includes modified thongs, jockstraps and briefs that are "right-sized" to fit Midwestern men, says Gorski.

"I realized they were going to be way too small for Midwesterners. They were, like, for California people or people who work out a lot, so I had to expand the jockstrap a bit."

But what really makes people feel sexy in his underwear, Gorski explains, is the sense of city pride.

"I think the biggest thing is the novelty of Detroit. There are a lot of underwear companies, but none of them specifically show the pride for the city," he says. "People love Detroit, so why not put it on underwear? Now people want to wear sexy underwear. And they want to feel sexy, and they want to say, "I am from Detroit." I've been getting tons of positive feedback from people."

The "GT" in DetroitGT is short for "graphic technologies," but Gorski says the name is vague enough to can be used in other situations as well: "I let GT stand for whatever is happening in the moment."

DetroitGT was founded in 2003 when Gorski began selling T-shirts out of an old Chevy. Today, his "Thread Sled" mobiles can be found at local festivals and will be expanding to Briarwood and Grand Rapids with hopes of giving each Michigan city an LGBT finish.

"For Christmas, I am going use the Ypsilanti Water Tower," he says, smiling. "You know, (it) looks like a brick dick."

Sure, that's one way to sell shirts (and underwear), but Gorski's tongue-in-cheek designs aren't just about being witty - first and foremost, they're about community.

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