Kane Caples knows inclusivity starts with self-acceptance and community
Kane Caples is a multifaceted personality who is transforming every project they touch. Caples is a passionate skateboarder, working to promote the sport and the community more broadly. They have also made a major effect through fashion, interviews and the culture at large, appearing with a diverse range of platforms, from Thrasher and Vanity Fair to Skateism and the Dazed 100.
With each project, Caples brings a distinct perspective, always focusing an eye on a socially transformative approach to their work. They have collaborated with a range of progressive skateboarding companies, promoting diversity and inclusion. Many of these projects have helped to amplify the voices of LGBTQIA+ skaters. More generally, they have also underscored and expanded on skateboarding’s ability to function as a safe and inclusive space for marginalized individuals.
In our Pride digital exclusive, Caples spoke with Josh Madden about their projects and their perspective on the world. The pair chatted about Caples’ diverse interests, from EGL fashion and bird rescues to French cold wave and more. Caples also spoke about their personal journey, their vision for the skateboarding community and their hope that trans and nonbinary individuals feel empowered to define their own identities.
You move between skateboarding, modeling, using your voice to speak out and other interests. How did you arrive at this point? Where did it start for you?
That goes all the way back to when I first started skateboarding. [I’ve] been skateboarding for around 13 years now. When it comes to modeling and communicating with people and overall things in my community, that's always been incorporated with skateboarding. You connect with a lot of people all over, in your city, outside of it when you're traveling. I think it just organically happened over time. It's not something that I was looking [for], whether it comes to representation, my voice or even getting involved in modeling.
Is there someone you would credit with giving you the positivity and power that drives you to do what you do?
That's a draw from a lot of places, whether it's support from my family back to when I first started [with] my mom helping me out. We didn't have too much money, but she got me whatever boards I needed. Later in life, friends being supportive of me, in skateboarding and outside of it, when it came to me being nonbinary. Finding that community within skateboarding. Being able to have those experiences and have other people share that with me in my community, especially in skateboarding, has been hella inspirational. I think just feeding off that energy with those people has really just kept me going.
Are there other people who have made an impact, especially when it comes to skateboarding?
My really close friends from Unity Skateboarding. Skateboarding wouldn't have progressed to what it is today, especially with inclusivity when it comes to queer people like me. Queer people, trans people [and] nonbinary folks having that space and skateboarding where they feel comfortable, where they feel like they have a community. Unity Skateboarding [was] started by Jeffrey Cheung and Gabriel [Ramirez], his partner, back in 2017. I went to one of their first meetups before I moved down to Oakland. It was just very comforting having those friends who come from the same background as me and being able to share those experiences with them. [That] made me feel comfortable in who I am today, with my comfortability being out and sharing that with other people. That’s somebody who I'm always going to mention in regards to somebody who inspired me over the years and actually wants me to do communal work—not just in skateboarding but also outside of it.
What has the response been like to your career? Do you get noticed out in the world?
Yeah, but it's not like with musicians. [That’s] more of a fanbase thing. With us, it just feels like community. It’s cool to have somebody say, “Hey, you help me with figuring this out with myself, with my identity.” Or, “If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't even be skating right now.” I've had people say, “I haven't picked up a skateboard in like 10 years, but coming to these LGBTQ+ meetups, beginner meetups, women meetups, trans meetups, queer meetups [or] stuff like that, I picked up skateboarding again.” Now, it is getting towards that future everybody's always wanted, where it is genuinely inclusive and a safe space for everyone. It's all community when I look at it.
Who are your biggest style influences?
I switch up what I'm into, especially the way I present myself. Right now, I'm into a lot of Victorian-style dresses. A lot of my friends are [in] the EGL community, which is Elegant Gothic and Lolita fashion. That's really big over in Japan. That style is mainly Victorian wear, very classic and goth. Of course, me being nonbinary, but also I like being more femme presenting. That style is very elegant. It's just very posh, very clean. That’s the way I want to present myself in public, that femme Victorian look. I don't have a specific person. I just have a lot of friends [into fashion]. We always send each other clothes back and forth. Then, accessorize and meld that together for your own look.
What music inspires you?
That's a wide range. When it comes to skate videos, I'm very specific. I mainly use dark cold-wave music, French cold-wave songs like the ’80s. Some of these bands, you can't even find them too much. One that I want to use for a part, their band name is Opéra De Nuit, and you can only find their music on MySpace. Usually, I just dig for songs like that. Or, independent artist friends. Eyedress is one of them. I've already asked Eyedress permission for a part. Eyedress dives into a bunch of different genres of music, whether it's punk, alternative [or] hip-hop. I don't make music myself, but I always love supporting independent artists in general. Clothing, too. Whether it's independent brands, independent artists and stuff like that. I feel like there are so many good people out there who don't get that much exposure.
I really want people to understand the way you educate the world about yourself and also about ourselves. It makes me wonder where it comes from. What makes it possible to be the way you are?
I get what you're saying, especially when it comes to figuring things out about myself being trans nonbinary. I think a lot of people have to reflect instead of looking at other people's experiences. When it comes to that experience, you feel like you have to be passing, when it comes to being nonbinary, trans and stuff like that. In my opinion at least, in terms of nonbinary, being trans and stuff like that, it's whatever you want it to be. It's an umbrella term. It's a variety of identities, whatever you want it to be, whatever you're comfortable with and how you want to present yourself. Especially in terms of what I said with passing, a lot of us don't have those resources or the privilege to pass. I just want to say with me, I came to terms, like, “I'm OK with this.” What helps me be more presentable, how I want to present in public, is my clothing. That helps me out a lot because I can’t afford to get surgeries and things like that right now. And I say, just try to figure things out. There's no wrong way to be nonbinary or trans. It's whatever you want it to be.
What other interests do you have beyond what we’ve discussed?
I've been co-parenting birds for the past few years. Pigeons, cockatiels, finches. Birds are pets, especially pigeons. They're domesticated. It was around World War I, World War II when they were used as messenger pigeons. After that, like the current generation, [they were] left on the streets. They're supposed to be living with us. I think it's just nice. Pigeon rescues, bird rescues always need volunteers because there's a lot of people who don't understand them or don't want to take the time to go and help out. I just want to broaden that a little more and be able to help out as much as I can.
Who else would you shout out if you could?
When it comes to photos, big shoutout to my friend, A Klass. They're the ones who do the photography. The photos came out beautiful. When it comes to makeup, my friend—really close friend, teammate, also roommate—Chandler Burton. Big shoutout with the makeup. I do want to shout out my sponsors: There Skateboards, Unity Skateboarding, Converse and Krux Skateboard Trucks. Tomo Skate Co., that's one of my friends out of San Francisco. Of course, I'm going to give a shoutout to my mom, my siblings. It's too many people. I'm going to say my birds.