There are any number of ways to answer this question. I could go on about feminine tendencies, leather chaps and scented candles but in the end I would only be playing to a bunch of stereotypes that are completely wrong. I have met guys I thought would be power tops who were insatiable bottoms and guys I thought would be total bottom boys who turned out to be brutal ass masters.
if in doubt simply ask, but…
It all depends on the conversation and the timing.
If it’s the first question you ask the guy then its going to seem a little forward, but again that depends on the situation. In a Sauna or bathhouse it’s fine, if it’s at the local Rotary Dinner then I suspect it’s not going to go well.
The best guide to etiquette for the young gay man is to simply use your common sense.
You will know very quickly if a guy is interested and you should be able to judge for yourself if the situation calls for more explicit conversation.
If you are trying to get to know somebody beyond simply getting them to knock knees with you, then diving in to the “so what are you in to?” conversation is going to be self defeating. Compatibility is a funny thing and you would be surprised by what can change when your attraction is more than physical. In my first relationship I thought I was exclusively a bottom and then in my second I was almost exclusively the top. Now I hover between the two.
People ask me all the time are you a power bottom or a power top? I answer ‘I am power versatile. Because no matter which way I fuck it’s awesome LOL.’
If you really just can’t get past having to ask the question then do it with humor. A little bit of flirtatious innuendo will be fun and help to break the ice if there is a little nervous energy flying around.
Mostly in my experience people just come out and say it,
Are you a top or bottom?
As long as they are not crude or creepy about it, or yelling it out in the middle of the train ride home then I am pretty cool with it.
On the dance floor a good way to tell is with the old bump and grind. Does he prefer to be the little spoon?
So use your common sense and remember Sex is meant to be fun and there is a lot more too it than just putting your bits inside each other and firing DNA around the place.
Be flirtatious, be discrete, ask quietly as you whisper sweet nothings in his ear and you will rarely go wrong.
Or for a real adventure don’t ask at all. Remember Variety is the spice of life!