Now there's a topic that you don't see covered very often.
The Pre-Raphaelites were rebels, and contradicted the prevailing mode of Victorian art. Not only was this true in their method (painting on a wet canvas for vivid colors) and style (refusing to follow the triangle-structure for composition, etc), but it was also true for their subject matter. They painted a red-haired Jesus and a Mary with callouses on her hands. The woman on their canvas stared brazenly out at the viewer, daring him to cow or subdue her.
One accusation that was often slung at the Pre-Raphaelites was that they de-masculinized the men in their artworks. Male subjects of asexual grace, combined with overtly sexual and powerful female models threatened to "overturn the laws of nature." A close brotherhood of male camraderie was not unusual in Victorian times, but eyebrows were raised when Pre-Raphaelite associates like Swinburne wrote "obscene" sexual poems that included lines like "thou shalt darken his eyes with thy tresses, Our Lady of Pain."
Simeon Solomon was, however, to the best of our knowledge, the only gay Pre-Raphaelite. And sad as it may be to admit this of our Pre-Raphaelite heroes, they did not respond to his arrest for homosexual activities with support or friendship. Perhaps fearing that his incarceration would publicly seem to confirm the suspicions in the minds of society, most of the circle disowned him.
Even Swinburne, the "anything goes" lover of all things sexual called his activity "a thing unmentionable alike by men and women, as equally abhorrent to either." Georgie and Edward Burne-Jones, however, remained true friends to Simeon Solomon (and this makes me like them even more.) How sad it is that these gentlemen (and ladies) who embodied change, revolution, and truthfulness to self would reject one of their own. Especially when their own sexual activities, while resigned to the opposite sex, were far from the "standard" as well.
Solomon's sexual preference can be seen in several very moving renditions he drew and painted. His men always seem to have a wistful look in their eyes, and a gentle grace. The above artwork, The Bride, Bridegroom and Sad Love is probably his most overt statement regarding the lot of most gay men in Victorian times. The central figure is locked in an embrace with his bride (who is rather forcing his head toward her) but his hands are secretly entwined with his true beloved, behind him.
There is another relative of the Pre-Raphaelites who later found love and contentment in life with someone of the same sex. Although May Morris married, she found joy late in life with "a burly, crop-haired, knickerbocker-suited First World War land-girl called Mary Lobb." It has been difficult to find information on their relationship, and in fact I've only seen passing references in two sources, but it appears they were together until May Morris' death in 1938.
Thanks to the book Pre-Raphaelite Art in the Victoria and Albert Museum for some of the information above.