Still, Mousa — whose Syrian family largely banished him when he came out as gay — is no innocent, and recognizes how fear can be mobilized for political effect.

He points in particular to the second Bush election in 2004, when the “threat” of gay marriage was widely broadcast, allegedly to rouse conservative voters and get them to the polls.

He also recalls the Department of Homeland Security bumping its terror-alert color code to orange, or “high” danger, throughout much of that period — which he calls another attempt to sow fear and anxiety.

As a result, Mousa uses orange as a visual metaphor through much of this work — often in the form of short, sharp slashes that cut across the orderly fabric of his flags.

“In this context, I think of orange as representing ignorance,” he said, “and with ignorance, fear develops.” Both, he argues, are toxic to democratic freedoms.

Museum curator Elizabeth Barrett Sullivan, who organized “American Landscape,” says it’s in this respect that Mousa’s work is explicitly political.

And while the position of homosexuals is central to Mousa’s art and concerns, none of the paintings in the exhibition are in the least sexual. (One includes an actual pair of his husband’s sexily ripped blue jeans, but that’s as far as it goes.)

“The work isn’t about his sexuality,” Sullivan said. “It’s about civil rights, equality and justice, and treating all Americans the same.”

As a result, she said, the museum — some of whose patrons are deeply traditional and conservative — hasn’t gotten any blowback for hosting a show by an openly gay artist.

Indeed, the reaction appears to have been overwhelmingly positive.

When he spoke at the museum in November, Mousa says young people flocked to thank him for bringing the question of gay rights out into the open in an Arab-American context.

“They said they’d been trying to belong for so long,” he said, “and that for the first time they felt really connected to the museum.”

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‘American Landscape: An Exploration of Art and

Humanity by Nabil Mousa’