Griffin wants to get married someday, and he also wants to have kids. But he says both desires are beside the point; Perry is no self-serving endeavor. “When people ask me about that, I often say I don’t want to talk about it,” he says. “Because it’s wrong to say that my motivation is so that I can get married. My motivation is the young kid in Arkansas who I once was, or in Fresno or East Los Angeles—the kids who are told every day by the government that they are second-class citizens. It licenses the hate that you hear and that you see every day. So we’ll continue to see high suicide rates among gay teens and hate crimes as long as there is this institutionalized discrimination.” The talking point on America’s gay youth is a recurring theme. “Yeah,” Griffin says, “because it’s really all I think about.”

This work doesn’t mean Griffin sees himself as an activist, even if that’s the term commonly preceding his name in countless articles written about the lawsuit. In his mind an activist is someone on the front lines well before Griffin arrives, someone who fights the fight, often in obscurity, years before most others take notice. “They’re the ones I respect the most,” he says. “The true gift of Prop. 8’s passage is that it inspired thousands of activists—gay and straight, young and old—across the country.” Using that momentum wisely, however, is what Griffin sees as the real challenge for the movement as a whole. “It’s important to remember our audience and not spend too much time talking to ourselves. If we have the same strategy, it speeds up our ability to move people in support of marriage, which then quickly moves our politicians and leaders in line. Let’s win this, and then move on to other important things. At the end of the day our goal should be to all be out of business.”

The next chapter in Griffin’s life is anyone’s guess—including his. “As long as I’m challenged and enjoy what I’m doing, I’ll keep doing it,” he says while snapping one final shot as a rock pigeon swoops past him into the caves below. “But I certainly don’t plan on being in politics my entire life. One of these days, who knows when, I could disappear for a few years with my camera.”